14 Animal Cognition

Experimental Psychology


  1. E. J. Capaldi PhD1,
  2. Ana P. G. Martins PhD2

Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118133880.hop204014

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

How to Cite

Capaldi, E. J. and Martins, A. P. G. 2012. Animal Cognition. Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition. 4:V:14.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Purdue University, Department of Psychological Sciences, West Lafayette, IN

  2. 2

    Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Communication and Social Behaviour Group, Seewiesen, Germany

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 SEP 2012


The chapter begins by noting that interest in animal cognition, which is currently popular, has in some respect waxed and waned over the years. It indicates that researchers in many different areas of science (e.g., experimental psychology, ethology, evolutionary biology, evolutionary psychology) are interested in animal cognition and briefly describes their work. Animal cognition may be identified with the internal representation of events and with various processes recognized as cognitive. Processes examined here are perception, discrimination learning and categorization, serial learning, numerical abilities, interval timing, memory, spatial learning, theory of mind (in which self-recognition and imitation are emphasized), and language learning in animals. The study of species-specific behaviors (like echolocation in bats) has also led to great progress in our understanding of cognitive processes. Some areas of animal cognition, serial learning being a prime example, have applied very similar theories to animals and humans. In other areas of animal cognition, such as language learning, there is skepticism about whether animals possess anything like the capacity of humans. The chapter concludes with the suggestion that animal cognition may benefit from studying animals in their normal environment.


  • representations;
  • serial learning;
  • behaviorism;
  • Pavlovian conditioning;
  • instrumental conditioning;
  • ethology;
  • modules;
  • information processing;
  • discrimination learning;
  • theory of mind;
  • counting;
  • imitation;
  • spatial learning