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Animal Intelligence

  1. Jennifer Vonk,
  2. Daniel J. Povinelli

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0060

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Vonk, J. and Povinelli, D. J. 2010. Animal Intelligence. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.

Author Information

  1. University of Louisiana

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


The study of animal intelligence has been addressed by ethologists, biologists, psychologists, anthropologists, neurologists, zoologists, and ecologists, among others, each guided by different theoretical perspectives. Representatives from each field have thus defined intelligence in different ways. The resulting disparate theoretical definitions have, not surprisingly, led to distinct operational definitions, encouraging strikingly different methodological approaches to the study of intelligent behavior in animals. Two broad approaches can be identified. Researchers studying animals in the field (e.g., ethologists, biologists, behavioral ecologists) have tended to focus on questions of how animals adapt to and solve ecological problems, whereas those studying animals in captive environments (e.g., psychologists) have focused on questions of generalized learning and memory and concept formation.


  • intelligence;
  • adaptive behavior;
  • methodology;
  • theoretical approach