Motivation and emotion/Textbook/Motivation and emotion/Animals

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Motivation and emotion in animals[edit source]

This page is part of the Motivation and emotion textbook. See also: Guidelines.
Completion status: this resource is considered to be complete.

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Psychology is a fascinating topic and animal psychology is almost a new science for researchers and pet owners alike. This chapter is about theory and research on animal learning and training concepts, animal communication, with discussion about current training methods. Motivation and emotion are areas that researchers have explored for decades and training concepts have evolved as a result of this exciting new field of animal research. The relationships between animals and people have evolved over centuries and the impact of animal domestication on man's progress is considerable. Hopefully both scientists, pet owners and psychology students will gain some new insights.

Sphynx displays the emotion of anger.

This chapter will attempt to unravel some of the mysteries of animal behaviour and how it relates to emotions and motivation. Have you ever wondered why a dog will bond to one owner, while another dog will attack its keeper? Why do elephants stand quietly at a circus with a small chain attached to its leg? How are dolphins, seals and killer whales trained? Why are most horses reluctant to get on a horse float? Can a reptile be trained?

Motivation and emotion are underpinned by learning theory, behaviourism, evolutionary and biological factors. Drive instincts ensure survival and explain emotional states. Of the many theorists and researchers who have contributed to the study in this field, this chapter will exclusively deal with those involved in animal behaviour. It is widely acknowledged that when animals are born, instinct and learned behaviour have enabled animals to adapt to their environment, be it in the wild or in a domestic situation.

The video is of a documentary about learning. Runs approx 27 min.

Motivation in animals[edit | edit source]

Who says I'm a bird brain?

This section discusses the relationships between predator and prey animals and their relationship(s) in nature and their relationship{s} with people. The videos are generally quite short (2 min or less)throughout the chapter unless specifically stated.

The video below is of a lion chasing and bringing down a zebra. Demonstrating predatory behaviour. [[1]]

This video is a complete contrast, this time a zebra is fending off a lion. [[2]]

Predators are physiologically designed to catch prey, like the cheetah: [[3]]

Prey animals will generally run from predators, but some will also fight: [[4]]

Do they really think? Animal cognition explained[edit | edit source]

Intelligence in animals such as dolphins could be related to brain size since research has shown that dolphins, whales and elephants all have large brain sizes. It is claimed to be a result of mutual dependence based on external threats from predators and con-specific groups(Connor, 2007). There are three “peaks” of brain size evolution in mammals and dolphins have brain sizes similar to humans, (Morisaka, 2009).

Comparisons are drawn between different mammals and their brain size, indicating that body size to brain size ratio is not a strong factor in intelligence. Humans have the largest brain relative to body size with the added benefit of language. Language is one thing that defines humans from animals, (Connor, 2007) however it is acknowledged that dolphins also have their own language of squeaks and whistles. It strongly suggests that they have complex communication skills which could be correlated to their level of intelligence.

Dolphins are extremely intelligent

Mammals with larger brains may have better cognitive abilities for complex environments, which could be explained by the evolutionary expansion of the brain and development of the forebrain. (Ratcliffe, Fenton, & Shettleworth, 2006) It is claimed that the neural substrate in the neocortex is responsible for risk assessment and decision making. The hippocampus has also been determined as a vital part of memory retention and spatial knowledge. The size of the hippocampus and neocortex is directly proportional to the cognitive abilities of birds and mammals and relative to their body size. It stands to reason that mammals with larger brains and larger parts of the brain are better equipped for predator evasion (Ratcliffe et al., 2006).

Studies on animal cognition have been carried out with dogs, cats (Leblanc & Duncan, 2007) monkeys, rats and birds. (Cook, 1993) Honey bees have been studied to determine how they cognitively make sense of their spatial world as the need to navigate to and from the hive regularly. (Cheng, Srinivasan, & Zhang, 1999) It is claimed that many animals both vertebrate and invertebrate can find their way back home or back to a previous destination, partly it is claimed due to spatial information processing and recognition of landmarks. Relatively few studies have been done with horses (Cook, 1993). In humans it is known that the left side of the brain generally controls the analytical side and the right half involving emotion.(McGreevy, 2004) Veterinarian Dr. Paul McGreevy suggests that horses are similar.

It is a fascinating comparison between animal and human cognition. Robert Cook (1993) posits that not enough research in this area is done with different species of animal, he states that using a pigeon to represent some 9000 species of birds is fraught with peril. To understand the aspects of the functional significance of cognitive animal intelligence, more study in the areas of distribution, ecology and spatial knowledge need to be studied in depth. How do rats gain spatial information through a maze? Is it as simple as the reward at the end giving incentive in order to navigate it faster each time it passes through? How does avian spatial ability differ from non human animals and man?

To find out, Cook’s (1993) study using series of complex line drawings and patterns found that both pigeons and humans can discriminate feature displays better than conjunctive displays. The similarities between how pigeons discriminated between the pattern shapes were similar in man, finding the density of the dots dictated how accurately the pictures were targeted. This visual discrimination is understandable in birds given their high visual acuity, necessary for finding food (birds of prey) or flying away from danger. It also supports evidence that birds process cognitive information to great detail, as do other species.

Another indicator of complex animal cognition is that of imitation as defined by Thorndike, (Byrne, 1999) as “learning to do an act by seeing it done” or copying another simply by observational learning. Further refined by M.Tomasello as the concept of emulation, (Byrne, 1999) where an example may be an individual monkey who may see another monkey accidentally open a coconut by dropping it from a great height, breaking it open, thus the obvious reward is food. It is posited that the cells of the mirror neurons in monkey cortex area of the brain all respond equally to the same actions such as mutual grooming and opening peanuts.

cat showing attack posture

The idea of imitation has been challenged, (Byrne, 1999) however the current evidence is hard to ignore when there are examples of such behaviour in birds such as naïve tits (birds) that learn how to pick the caps off bottles. Another is crows that are reported to have learned how to flip cane toads on their backs and peck out their stomachs, as it’s the only area on the cane toad that is not deadly poisonous. These complex social processes have developed from selective pressures of survival of the species.(Boysen & Himes, 1999) A study using chimpanzees raised by humans, some with natural mothers and some with human children on imitation tasks had fascinating results. On the simple and complex tasks, the mother reared chimpanzees were the poorest performers. However, on the final task which was an imitation task with a 48 hour delay, the monkeys raised by humans actually outperformed the mother reared chimpanzees and human children. (Boysen & Himes, 1999) Capuchin monkeys have also been investigated on tool use skills and have demonstrated understanding of the causal effects, compelling evidence of animal cognition.

Chimpanzees have also been claimed to learn by imitation how to use pieces of plants to dig termites out of nests, (Byrne, 1999) and use stones to crack open nuts. Rats have also been known to copy each other, black rats in Jerusalem have learned how to open pine cones in a systematic way which is claimed to not be natural to that species. Similar to squirrels, the rats have learned how to break off the cones carefully then take them to another branch and meticulously peel them back to get the seeds inside. It was discovered through cross breeding to not have genetic origin, but is social in nature. It was stated that this skill does not come naturally to the rats when presented with unopened cones, (Byrne, 1999) even if they were starving. It was also claimed that the rats could be taught by man how to open the cones, strengthening the argument for emulation.

Do animals have personalities?[edit | edit source]

More recently, the field of animal personality been more intensively studied and it has a direct relationship to cognition, or their awareness. It is now becoming recognized more widely that animals have individual personalities just the same as different breeds have certain traits. Sonia Cavigelli’s (2005) longitudinal study used animal subjects, specifically due to the recognition that animals have different personalities. She wanted to find out if there was a relationship between personality, physiology and health in individuals and because some animals have a short lifespan, they were perfect for such a study. She wanted to discover the impact individual differences made to disease susceptibility that could be linked to similar human studies.

She defines personality as a set of inter-related traits that are stable within an individual across time and across situations (Cavigelli, 2005). Her study concentrated on the relationship between personality and health, but there is not a lot of research on specific animal personalities in the area of animal learning. Gosling & John’s (1999) study examined the “five factors”, or the five personality factors found in humans and identified certain personality traits across species of animals. (Cavigelli, 2005) This suggests that some personality traits are genetic and research in this area of animal personality could reveal common elements of personality also found in humans.

A more recent study on social cueing in dogs fully embraced the concept of personality in dogs, so much so that part of the research they did included a dog personality questionnaire. They recognize that dogs follow social cues from humans such as pointing to a hidden object. They found that dogs outperformed primates, wolves and goats on similar tasks which are of great interest to cognitive scientists, (Clotfelter & Hollis, 2008) The suggestion that domestic animals have superior cognition suggests the idea that dogs have a “theory of mind”, which is of value in human-animal communication. One dog training system includes dog personality tests into its training regime which may represent the recognition of dog cognition. See

Adaptability and behavioural flexibility are requirements for animals to succeed in any environment they encounter, (Dingemanse & Réale, 2005). Dingemanse (2005) did a study on aspects of individual differences in animals with case studies in different environments. He wanted to see how similar personalities affected how they coped in different situations. He found that hand reared great tits (birds)reactions were comparable in their individual reactions to rats on being presented with novel stimuli. (Dingemanse & Réale, 2005) He did another case study on big horn sheep, where he found certain sheep would enter an enclosed yard baited with salt and others wouldn’t, supposedly measuring the trait of boldness. He discussed boldness in fish from another experiment, indicating their aggressiveness enabled them to find food against competition, thus increasing their chances to survive and pass on genetic traits.

Rat learning in Skinner Box

Probably the most fascinating of the studies discussed was that of black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) in 24 zoos. The females kept in captivity that were observed to display less stereotypical behaviour such as mouthiness and chasing had the highest reproductive success. Also, those that showed fear, docility and displayed patrolling activity were not significantly related to reproductive success. Cheetahs in the same type of multi zoo study had similar results where non breeders were more fearful than breeders. (Dingemanse & Réale, 2005) The findings of these studies suggest that personality characteristics in different species enable animals overall survival, due to aggressiveness or risk taking behaviour.

The value of studies of personality in animals cannot be underestimated, especially in the field of larger domestic animals such as horses and cattle. Scientific studies on horse personality would be extremely fascinating as it could answer many questions about equine cognition. The literature reveals that animals appear to have individual personalities,(Carere & Eens, 2005) so why not horses? Understanding individual equine personality could be of value in the horse training industry to train the horses more effectively depending on their innate characteristics. More about this type of training is discussed in the supplementary section.

Classical and operant conditioning, how animals learn[edit | edit source]

How animals learn underpins what motivates them and suggests they possess awareness. The need to find food facilitates learning, from opening nuts to killing a large beast. How they learn is explained by the following theories and research.The phenomenon of learned helplessness will be covered and imprinting learning during critical learning periods. The definitions of different types of reinforcement, conditioned and unconditioned stimulus and how they are presented for the purposes of training or shaping behaviour will be discussed in this section.

One of Pavlov's dogs

Ivan Pavlov was a Russian professor who was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1904 for his groundbreaking work on digestive tracts in dogs which eventually led to his discovery of conditioned reflexes (Marks, 2004). He observed what happened in the digestive tract when he rang a bell then fed the dogs as a reward, leading him to discover how the cerebral cortex responded to certain reflexes (Ivan Petrovich Pavlov, 2009). The conditioned reflex, now known as classical conditioning was that the dogs started salivating when he rang a bell, because they had been conditioned to do so by food rewards.

Pavlov discovered how conditioned and unconditioned responses worked. (Powell et al., 2005) An unconditioned response would be a response elicited prior to conditioning, where the dogs would salivate when they tasted their food and since this occurs naturally it is an unconditioned response, the food is called an unconditioned stimulus.

A conditioned response on the other hand is a trained response. An example would be the sound of a bell when presented by itself to the dog. It elicits no response so it is a neutral stimulus as no salivation occurs. Once the sound of the bell and the giving of food are repeatedly paired together, the sound of the bell now makes the dog salivate. Once the pairing association has been made by the dog, it will salivate on the sound of the bell alone, so the dog is giving a conditioned response. The bell is now the conditioned stimulus. Pavlov also found that spontaneous recovery was not a process of unlearning the conditioning, but was new learning taking place, so the dog learns to inhibit the response to the bell during extinction.

Disinhibition, is another phenomenon defined as when a response suddenly recovers during extinction when a different stimulus is introduced. Pavlov discovered during his research on experimental neurosis that under certain experimental conditions, his dogs displayed extremely neurotic behaviour such as anxiety and in extreme cases catatonia. (Powell et al., 2005) Pavlov's work heralded the beginning of the field of behaviourism.

Prior to his findings, John B. Watson (Behaviorism.2009) believed that behaviour was simply a response to something in the environment, assuming no mental processes occurred. He discovered that food effectively motivated certain responses with positive reinforcement. Watson further developed and expanded research based on Pavlov’s work on Behaviorism and wanted to study the emotional aspects of classical conditioning (Rilling, 2000). He wanted to find out more about fear in children and believed all behaviour was based on reflex conditioning from an environmental stimulus. He discovered he could condition certain emotions such as fear into children and developed his learning theory.

Skinner Box

B.F. Skinner expanded on behaviourism in the 1930’s, he believed external events could motivate behaviour. Using punishment and reward (withholding food) to train pigeons and rats to perform certain tasks (Strickler, 2006) he got birds to peck for food and rats to press a lever to get food, this is now known as operant conditioning. (Iverson, 1992) In contrast to Edward Thorndike's earlier research on learning by trial and error, also known as the law of effect, Skinner collected data which expanded considerably on what was discovered. He developed reinforcement schedules and developed procedures to shape behaviour by successive approximation. He didn't realize the conditions he elicited could be used to change emotional states in scared animals. Skinner developed the Skinner Box (Measured learning.1992)as part of his animal studies(Epstein, 1995).

For learning to occur, there must first be a stimulus. There are two types of stimulus, appetitive and aversive. An appetitive stimulus is actively sought out, such as food when hungry and an aversive stimulus is that which is actively avoided such as an electric shock. Contiguity and contingency refers to the closeness of the stimuli, such as an event that happens close together in time and it is defined as temporal contiguity. (Powell et al., 2005) Events happening in close proximity to each other in space are defined as spatial contiguity and those events that have a predictive nature between the two are known as contingency. These laws all relate to conditioning and they explain the relationships between stimulus and habituation, conditioned and unconditioned responses which underpin classical and operant conditioning.

Terms Commonly used in Learning Theory

Term Definition Purpose / example
Positive reinforcement Presentation of a stimulus that follows desired response is pleasant Strengthens the response
Negative Reinforcement Removal of unpleasant stimulus follows the response Future strengthening of that response
Positive punishment Presentation of unpleasant stimulus follows a response Decreases the future strength of that response
Negative punishment Removal of pleasant stimulus following response Decreases future strength of that response
Habituation Waning of response to repeated stimulus as a result of frequent exposure Reduction of fear reaction to noise
Classical conditioning Unconditioned and conditioned responses are elicited from conditioned stimulus A stimulus is associated with another through continual reinforcement
Operant Conditioning Learning by consequences using combinations of negative and positive reinforcement The strength of the behaviour is determined by the consequence

Note. Adapted from "Introduction to Learning and Behaviour" by R. Powell, D. Symbaluk and S. MacDonald, 2004.

In classical conditioning, habituation is defined as a decrease in certain behaviours as a result of repeated exposure to a certain stimulus, for example low background noises in a new environment. We may find ourselves in an area with busy traffic noise but after a while we gradually become less aware of it and are habituated to it.

Desensitization is where the stimulus is presented repeatedly until there it no longer elicits a response, similar to habituation Sensitization is when a stimulus is presented repeatedly in such a way that we become very sensitive to it. Being near a railway where the rattle and roar of the trains initially startles you, but after a while they don’t bother you any more as you become desensitized to the noise.

An appetitive (unconditioned) stimulus is usually associated with a pleasant experience while the opposite is and an aversive (unconditioned) stimulus is very unpleasant so is avoided. (Powell et al., 2005)

Clicker training is commonly used to train marine mammals

An example of this would be a bull that touches an electric fence and receives an immediate shock. Aversive conditioning occurs more quickly, reflecting the innate mechanisms of survival that says we must quickly learn to avoid that which causes harm or pain (Powell et al., 2005).

The strengthening of an associated repeated pairing of unconditioned stimuli is known as acquisition. The conditioned response can also be weakened considerably or eliminated by repeated pairings of the conditioned stimulus without the conditioned stimulus. However responses can spontaneously recover if there is a rest period between extinction and the next conditioned response. It is weaker than the original response and does not last permanently. (Powell et al., 2005)

Classical conditioning techniques are used on humans to treat phobias and given what the literature indicates about animal personalities, classical conditioning can also be used to treat phobias in animals. Some equine trainers already use classical conditioning using systematic desensitization, flooding, habituation and successive approximation or approach retreat.

Operant conditioning is another type of learning where the probability of a future behaviour occurs as a result of direct consequences (Powell et al., 2005). Edward Thorndike had an interest in animal behaviour and he formulated what is known as the law of effect. It states that behaviours leading to a satisfactory state of affairs are strengthened or solidified and unsatisfactory behaviours are weakened or eliminated (Powell et al., 2005). Skinner as previously discussed further expanded on this work on how consequences facilitate learning with his Skinner box and experimental research with rats and pigeons.

Reinforcement or punishment could be defined as the consequence. The four contingencies of reinforcement are positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment and negative punishment.

rat self administering morphine

Positive reinforcement means something pleasant is added to encourage the desired behaviour as the picture of the rat illustrates. He has figured out how to self administer morphine as a result of pressing a lever. Another example would be a crocodile that learns to jump up out of the water to eat a chicken. Crocodiles are known to jump up out of the water for food especially when tourist operators regularly feed them as part of the entertainment, the behaviours are positively reinforced.[[5]]

Negative reinforcement something unpleasant is subtracted to encourage the desired behaviour, in the case of the rat he can stop an electric shock he is receiving by pressing the lever. (Powell, Symbaluk, & MacDonald, 2005) The behaviour (pressing the lever) increases in strength because the rat removes something unpleasant (the electric shock).

Positive punishment means something unpleasant is added to discourage the undesired behaviour. An example would be an animal that puts its nose on an electric fence, every time he touches it he gets an electric shock, so he learns to not touch it.

Negative punishment means something pleasant is subtracted to discourage undesired behaviour. The example given in Powell (2005), is that of staying out past curfew and losing car privileges as a result.

Shaping is the next stage of operant conditioning. Karen Pryor (Powell et al., 2005) who is a clicker training advocate uses this method to train dogs with a clicker as a secondary reinforcement. She suggests that in order to train a dog to catch a ball, first take the ball from the dog and immediately return it, which reinforces the behaviour. Then in successive stages, gradually go further away from the dog before returning the ball until he first has to jump a little to catch it, then eventually he has to chase it down to catch it. In conjunction with the use of the clicker the behaviour is reinforced or shaped. Clicker training will be explained in more detail in a later next section. These concepts give the basis of motivation in animals and they are invaluable in terms of animal learning and training methods.

Instinct, drive reduction theory and learned helplessness[edit | edit source]

Instinct could be defined as that which is genetically coded at birth and learned behaviour is that which takes a little longer to develop. (Mills & Nankervis, 1999) The two go hand in hand since what an animal is genetically endowed with will be enhanced by its environment and experiences.

Birds of prey can be easily trained to do what's natural

An example of instinctive behaviours in mammals could be the initial standing up at birth, followed by identifying mother and seeking milk and nursing. Later on, the instincts are further reinforced and enhanced through environmental experience, nature and nurture together.

A part of instinctive behaviours also includes staying with the herd, finding water, food and rest. When any of these are needed, an animal will be driven to actively seek it out until he finds enough to reach homeostasis. If he is thirsty and water is in short supply and he goes thirsty for long enough, the drive to find water will motivate him even more the longer he is without it until he finds it. When he finds water and drinks his fill, his physiological needs are met so the drive is reduced again.

Clark Hull had a view on drive reduction and reinforcement and his theoretical approach was known as the Premack principle. (Powell, Symbaluk, & MacDonald, 2005) According to Hull, all reinforcement is associated with drive reduction in one way or another. The Premack principle principally claims that high-probability behaviours can be used to reinforce low-probability behaviours. An example of the Premack principle would be first do your homework, then go and play. It focuses on the underlying motivation of the behaviour rather than just the stimulus presented as the reinforcement.

Learned helplessness is a state that could be defined as that of the animal seeking to avoid pain or discomfort from an unpleasant stimulus (Curtis & Stricklin, 1991), but never finding a way out, as a result they become dull and listless and just give up. It could also be defined as a decrement in learning ability that results from repeated exposure to uncontrollable aversive events. (Powell, Symbaluk, & MacDonald, 2005). An example would be a baby elephant who learns he cannot escape the leg chain no matter how hard he tries. He remembers this for life.

Imprinting[edit | edit source]

Mallard ducks imprinted on their mother.

Imprinting is a naturally occurring phenomenon that modern trainers use to reduce fear in their animals. It occurs at birth and researcher Karl Lorenz experimented with imprinting geese and demonstrated how geese and ducklings will imprint on the first thing they see after they are born. [[6]] The video has no audio but demonstrates how Lorenz gets the geese to imprint onto him and follow him everywhere (2 min). Animals of different species will also imprint on other animals as the next video shows,[[7]].The explanation of this phenomenon is in that the instinct of a precocial prey species is to bond to whatever it first sees at birth, (since it is usually the mother) for protection from predators. The interesting thing Lorenz also found with geese that imprinted on foster mothers was that they also imprinted sexually and tried to court and mate with species the same as the foster mother when they reached sexual maturity. (Manning, 1967) Dr Robert Miller is a veterinarian who advocates imprint training and uses it to gentle foals and other wild precocial species (Miller, 2007). In his book “Natural Horsemanship Explained” some pictures are of him imprinting zebra foals and even a rhinoceros. He also authored a book titled “Imprint Training of the Newborn Foal” where he explains the process that he uses and how effective it is from a veterinarians’ point of view. The main point to note is that animals have a sensitive or critical phase at or soon after birth and it varies between predators and prey animals. When predators are born, they are born blind and imprint or learn best a few weeks after birth. Prey animals or precocial species must be immediately equipped to be perceptive to danger and be able to flee from birth, so imprinting to what is usually the mother is vital for their survival. The level of motivation an animal has will also affect their rate of learning, (Manning, 1967) and it is claimed that animals vary in what motivates them the most. Some animals are motivated by food, others by simply being left alone. It is also claimed by the author that the extent of the animal’s learning ability is roughly proportional to the extent of its cerebral hemispheres since they are involved in memory. Precocial species are neurologically mature at birth and imprinting is valuable for training purposes since the fear instinct is greatly reduced, (Miller, 1999). Imprinting foals at birth has an indelible effect (McGreevy, 2004) and is highly efficient due to the speed of learning, making them easier, quieter and less dangerous to handle when they are fully grown. This video shows Robert Miller demonstrating the excellent results on an imprinted Mule foal[[8]](video approx 8min). The next section explores emotions further.

Emotion in animals[edit | edit source]

This section discusses current theory and research on emotions in animals and considers implications for animal welfare. Arguably the best example of emotions in animals would be the reactions of baby Rhesus monkeys on separation from their mothers as was done by Harry Harlow in the 1960’s . As documented in the book “Early Learning and Early Experience”, (Sluckin, 1971) the author gives a detailed account of one experiment where Harlow spoke about what happened when the infant monkeys were initially separated from their mothers. He described them as being disoriented, screaming and crying immediately after separation and he indicated the intensity of the crying being significantly higher immediately following separation than before. Following separation once they settled down, they displayed depressive symptoms indicating severe emotional distress, such as low activity, little or no playing and occasional crying, similar to despair seen in children who are separated from their mothers. These reactions could be argued to be exactly the same emotions that humans experience.

Monkey responding to affection

John Bowlby was a London psychoanalyst who's research concentrated on attachment theory in the early 1960’s (Van, LeRoy, & Van, 2008). It is claimed in the literature that Bowlby’s work influenced the study of Ethology (van, van, & van Ijzendoorn, 2007) and the mother-child relationship for scientists such as Tinberger, Hinde and Harlow. Harry Harlow was an American animal psychologist who used Rhesus monkeys for his research. It could be said that between Bowlby and Harlow, the discoveries the two of them made around attachment and the effects of parent - child separation were groundbreaking and underpin most of what we know today about the effects of early separation, grief and loss. While Bowlby primarily concentrated on the relationships between children and their mothers while working at the Tavistock clinic in London (Van et al., 2008), Harlow initially studied the ontology of learning and motivation. He became more interested in the emotions of maternal affection (Van et al., 2008) as he observed the behaviour of his monkeys and conducted a series of experiments on the effects of separation.

They discovered psychological emotional distress such as depression, despair, stereotypical behaviour, separation anxiety (Bretherton, 1997) were caused by broken attachments. The video is about how the brain alters its structure and functioning in response to social situations. The impact of different stimuli on human and animal brains, from the effect of human touch on premature babies to the effect of social status on the health of baboons. (runs approx 27min)

A documentary screened in 2006 by ABC TV Australia, “Monkey Love”, gave great insight and a fascinating account of the man and his work, although confrontational. He wanted to find out if monkeys were motivated by food or comfort of a mother by separating babies from mother at birth and placing them with a cloth mother, see video [[9]]. He found they preferred the cloth mother [[10]]emphasising the importance of maternal care in animals that can be related back to human children. [[11]]There is video footage of them displaying fear [[12]] aggression, self mutilation and complete despair occurred in infant monkeys after being left in total darkness for up to 2 years.

In another article, (Bekoff, 2000) the author makes an argument that followers of Skinner’s work believe that animals are simply machines that respond to stimuli. There is little evidence that emotions were never considered, since they are difficult to measure and the argument is losing its momentum according to new evidence claimed by some researchers. (Carmichael, Reno, & Shenfeld, 2003) Although pet owners may interpret certain animal actions as love, it cannot be denied that feelings of fear, despair, jealousy and love in animals exist. Animals respond to kind treatment, good food and having their physiological needs met.

It is posited in the book “Understanding Motivation and Emotion”, (Reeve, 2009) that anticipation of some event can cause an emotion to occur. As one example, trying to get a horse into a horse float can be a challenging prospect for anyone who has ever owned a horse. How can a person who cannot out-muscle a huge, scared, prey animal to get on a small enclosed, dark box on wheels without killing themselves or the horse in the process? There are several different and somewhat controversial methods to resolve this problem which will be addressed in a later section while attempting to explain the emotional aspects.

What emotions do animals experience?[edit | edit source]

Dog displaying affection

Agricultural industries are claimed (Curtis & Stricklin, 1991) to be slow to accept the notion of animal awareness according to Curtis & Stricklin. They suggested that cognition and awareness in animals has a direct physiological effect on their level of production due to stress caused by their direct experience. For example, does a dairy cow experience fear or stress in the milking barn?

There is a direct correlation between lowered productivity and six causes of stress found in chicks, they are ammonia, beak trimming, coccidiosis, electric shock, heat and noise. (Curtis & Stricklin, 1991) It is widely recognized that how an animal really feels is difficult to measure but that does not lessen that productive value of well managed welfare systems. Another example of stress is that experienced by pigs that are susceptible to heat stress due to lack of sweat glands. They will wallow in mud to lower their body temperature when under heat stress and it is claimed (Curtis & Stricklin, 1991) that they will not wallow even if they have access to mud if the temperature is optimal for them at 12 degrees Celsius. He also acknowledged evidence that pigs reared in an enriched more natural environment were more productive.

The argument about animals having human emotions (Tangley, 2000), from cats purring to grieving elephants,(Starr, 2006) or chimpanzees (Bekoff, 2000) following the death of their offspring, is a powerful indication of the strength of emotional attachments of animals from birth. It has been demonstrated that attachment can be interfered with in animals the same as with humans as Harry Harlow found (Van, LeRoy, & Van, 2008), however it can also be used in a positive way by utilizing natural imprinting processes (Manning, 1967) to achieve training outcomes. It could also be claimed that broken attachments can have permanent effects on a juvenile animal.

Harlow found beyond question that by disrupting the mother infant bond, the infants did not learn to mother their own offspring adequately and while some ignored their own babies at birth, others killed them. John Bowlby, (van & van, 2010) observed the effects of disrupted attachments in children at the clinic he worked at and it was undeniable in the face of the evidence he presented, that human children, the same as animal babies, suffered from permanent psychological disorders such as anger, despair and separation anxiety as a result (Steele, 2010). He was also interested in Konrad Lorenz's work on imprinting goslings and realized that in animals as in humans, (Sable, 2004) that bonding is part of a basic survival instinct since infants are nurtured by parents when ill, threatened by danger or predator attack and the close proximity of a parent means safety can be assured. Lorenz, who together with Niko Tinbergen discovered how the phenomenon of imprinting in animals naturally occurs.

As stated, physiological adaptations enable animals to survive in the wild and to find food, water and flee from danger. They have highly equipped senses which are processed in the brain through the nervous system. The sensory system includes the receptor cells and sense organs, the central nervous system which is the brain and the spinal cord and the motor system which controls the motor systems such as the autonomic and somatic systems. To understand animal emotion, a little must be understood about the processes of the brain and the differences between prey animal and predator physiology and psychology.

A horse's instinct is to buck when it has a predator on its back

The sensory input of a prey animal is different and their perception is faster than a predator, as they must be able to quickly flee from danger or it will get eaten, (Miller, 1999). They have a highly developed sense of smell, hearing and sight and the visual system of a prey animal is designed differently to a predator.

The majority of prey animals have eyes on the side of their head and horses in particular, have the largest eyes of any terrestrial mammal. They have almost 350 degrees of vision giving them excellent panoramic and distance vision, (McGreevy, 2004). They have mostly monocular vision (McGreevy, 2004) and they have a special layer in the eye called the “tapetum lucidum” which is designed to reflect light onto the retina making it easy for horses to see in dim light (Mills & Nankervis, 1999). The hearing of a horse is far more superior than that of a human, in the range of 1-16 kHz which is a broader range than most mammals, making them extremely responsive to strange noises that could indicate danger (McGreevy, 2004). They also have an extremely sensitive olfactory system enabling stallions to distinguish when mares are in estrus at breeding time as do predator species.

Predators such as birds of prey have eyes on the front of their head giving them excellent depth perception and binocular vision with excellent visual acuity, enabling them to quickly judge exactly where their prey is in order to catch it. They also have a highly developed sense of smell enabling them also to detect food, such as seen in some breeds of dogs used for tracking and to detect and mark territory. Their hearing is also highly developed and many animal species have hearing far superior to humans.

Emotions seen in animals are evident in both prey and predators species (Carmichael, Reno, & Shenfeld, 2003). Dogs are extremely adept at reading human emotions as claimed by Carmichael (2003) in her article about animal emotions, she also claims that this adaptation has enabled dogs to find food and shelter with their human companions in early caveman days. She posited that dogs have personalities, sociability, affection, emotional stability and competence, or a combination of obedience and intelligence. [[13]] The video link is of a dog and other animals who lost their babies and adopted others. The second video link is of a tiger who adopted piglets, [[14]] as the story goes, the tiger lost her own cubs and became depressed according to the zoo keepers, so they introduced piglets who needed care and she accepted them as her own, also recovered from her depression, which is compelling evidence that animals feel emotions similar to humans!

Cat displaying contentment

The amygdala in the brain is said to be responsible for the emotion of love or intense affection. Carmichael, (2003) recalled incidents of monkeys adopting babies unrelated to them, whales doing courtship dances and horses refusing to leave their stalls due to an intense bond they have formed. While animals do form bonds with humans, it is questionable that the reason the horses don’t wish to leave their stalls is because of the bond, it could also be other underlying motivators keeping them in there, such as fear.

Fear is claimed to be an innate characteristic that animals have in order to survive, they do not need to think about danger when it is their instinct to react first in order to escape, (Bekoff, 2000). An example of this built in alarm system would be certain sounds, objects flying around or smells. In the limbic system the amygdala is the part of the brain responsible for responding to a stimulus and causing an emotional response such as flight from fear, which is the physiological response, as it is a primary defence mechanism in prey species. For example, if a zebra was to think first about a noise in the bush and run later, then it would most likely get eaten, but if it runs first then thinks later, it increases its chances of survival. This sort of adaptation can be utilized by trainers who are aware of the psychology behind the animal’s reactions to elicit responses. An example would be in the zebra’s domestic cousin, the horse. Through using certain techniques such as imprinting young, habituation and desensitization (Miller, 2007), amazing results can be achieved.

The fear response can also turn into anger or extremely aggressive behaviour, like a beaten dog for example.

Dog displays anger

It is afraid of its owner, so when the owner approaches the dog, it perceives a threat because it is cornered and reacts with anger or aggression because it has no other escape. Examples of animal anger are demonstrated in this video clip where enraged circus elephants run amok, [[15]] where animals attack their owners, supposedly as a result of the harsh training methods used. Other videos linked to in this chapter show unprovoked attacks,[[16]] however, those animals were not necessarily beaten, there is no suggestion they were, but there was a reason they attacked their owners.

In considering animal welfare, the question of why some animals display stereotypical behaviour such as self mutilation, weaving or pacing the fence need to be addressed as they are definitely caused by emotional stress of some description. [[17]](The video is as it is approx 6 min, but the first example gives a good demonstration. Measuring emotions in animals is difficult but warrant further scientific analysis to reduce these behaviours in captive animals from a welfare perspective.

Bringing man and animals together - interspecies communication[edit | edit source]

Clicker training works well with dogs

In relation to inter-species communication from a motivation and emotion perspective, understanding the psychology of prey animals and predators and how they perceive humans is of great relevance. A prey animal knows humans are predators, therefore they can be expected to be fearful of humans the majority of the time. They may not run away but they may not exactly trust the human either. If they are imprinted at birth this can greatly reduce their fear and make them more trainable.

In the supplementary section there are examples of training methods that are based on building communication across species. Clicker training, classical and operant conditioning, appropriate reinforcement techniques that work with the animal's natural instincts rather than against them are discussed. Animals understand body language and have personalities, they are also extremely intelligent. They are motivated by physiological needs such as hunger, thirst, sex, companionship, air and rest. They are also motivated to escape from danger, but can be taught to become less afraid and do things normally unnatural to them (such as go on a horse float). They can be so well taught using the right motivational techniques that they will actively seek out the float as it can provide comfort - comfort, (to stop and rest) is a huge incentive.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Animals can be trained to do anything using appropriate techniques

Motivation and emotion in animals is inextricably linked and one directly affects the other. It has been shown that animals can think, demonstrating cognition, they also have personalities. There is very strong evidence to support the notion that they experience emotions similar to humans. Their emotional state under stress can be psychological as well as physiological. Some of the psychological effects of stress manifest themselves as stereotypical behavior. Animals are motivated by the need for survival, those drives are extremely powerful, or example, a prey animal will run until it needs to stop for air, then that will become more important. Sometimes they will fight if they see no other way out. Understanding emotional states in animals, drive theory, learning theory, imprinting techniques and to consider personalities and how they perceive humans is paramount to understanding what motivates them.

Utilising appropriate shaping and reinforcement techniques, in combination with the appopriate classical or operant training (or a combination of the two), using flooding, approach retreat and habituation techniques will almost certainly cure the majority of animal behaviour issues people face. Applying the concepts outlined in the supplementary section that are used on horses could be applied to any prey animal.

People who work with animals in zoos, animal parks and beef/cattle/dairy industries would benefit greatly from this knowledge as it would benefit the comfort and welfare of animals overall. Animals like rhinoceros and elephants could be imprinted at birth, followed up with teaching them to lift their feet on cue or move wherever the human wants. This training would make them less fearful and better prepared for general handling such as that required when the vet visits. It would also make them safer to handle. Even reptiles such as crocodiles can be trained using positive reinforcement, this can be used to the handler's advantage. Animals can be taught anything from tricks, circus work and movie work to be world class competition animals.

Clicker training is an excellent training method for some predatory animals such as killer whales and dolphins. Operant/classical conditioning used appropriately using negative and positive reinforcement has been demonstrated as highly effective on animals such as big cats. Embracing training during critical early learning periods can pay dividends later on, for both predator and prey animals. Understanding the use of body language and understanding animal's body language is a nonverbal form of interspecies communication. Animals can be communicated to by body language and other subtle cues, such as with circus animals and movie / liberty trained animals.

Hopefully this chapter encourages people to explore further and keep an open mind when exploring "new" modern methods of training. Understanding the predator / prey animal relationship and individual differences amongst animals is the most important message. Any animal lover / owner should know these concepts, animals do not need to be bullied or brutalised to submit to the will of humans. The methods described here are far more humane and consider the world from the animal's point of view while using positive reinforcement at the appropriate time. Humans keep animals in unnatural environments and expect them to cope with it, the least we can do is prepare them psychologically, it is our responsibility.

Animals can be dangerous and there is always a risk of injury and no liability will be entered into from any individual attempting methods mentioned here as this chapter is not intended to replace professional guidance, only provide general information. Readers are encouraged seek professional instruction.

See also[edit | edit source]

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