Comparing Apes and Dogs
Humans are social creatures maintaining shared complex systems of communication, skills and knowledge. Human sociality appears to be unique throughout the animal kingdom in its complexity as well as its impact on the lifestyle and environment of the species. One key feature of human social interactions is that humans have the ability in some situations to make inferences about other individuals’ mental states (e.g., others’ knowledge, beliefs and desires). One goal in comparative psychology is to investigate to which degree the cognitive capacities underlying these skills are uniquely human or shared at least to some degree with other species. In a series of studies questions regarding animals’ understanding of others’ attention, visual perspective and knowledge state have been investigated. The results suggest that different animal species have a more flexible understanding of other members of their group than was formerly thought.