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Animal ThinkingContemporary Issues in Comparative Cognition$
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Randolf Menzel and Julia Fischer

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780262016636

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262016636.001.0001

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How Folk Psychology Ruined Comparative Psychology

How Folk Psychology Ruined Comparative Psychology

And How Scrub Jays Can Save It

Chapter:
(p.253) 17 How Folk Psychology Ruined Comparative Psychology
Source:
Animal Thinking
Author(s):

Derek C. Penn

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262016636.003.0017

The cognitive revolution in psychology was founded on the premise that all cognitive processes result from rule-governed operations and that cognizers do not need to understand these rules to act “rationally” or “intelligently.” Despite its intent to replace romantic folk psychological intuitions about how the mind works, anthropomorphism is prevalent throughout much of comparative psychology: claims that animals perform “human-like” feats find broad acceptance in the media and permeate the academic debate, while less anthropomorphic explanations are largely dismissed. To construct a viable scientific theory of nonhuman minds, comparative psychology must aim for a computationally explicit account of cognition—not just folk psychological descriptions. Given the impressive body of data that has been collected on the social cognitive abilities of scrub jays, compiling a functional specification of corvid social cognition would be a great place to start.

Keywords:   Strüngmann Forum Reports, folk psychology, anthropomorphism, comparative psychology, cognition, scrub jays

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