In two new contributions to this influential field of comparative psychology, David Smith, PhD, of the University at Buffalo and his fellow researchers report on continuing advances in this domain.
Smith is a professor in the Department of Psychology at UB, and a member of the university’s graduate program in evolution, ecology and behavior and its Center for Cognitive Science. His co-authors on the articles are Justin J. Couchman, PhD, visiting assistant professor of psychology, State University of New York at Fredonia, and Michael J. Beran, PhD, senior research scientist, Language Research Center, Georgia State University.
In “The Highs and Lows of Theoretical Interpretation in Animal-Metacognition Research,” in press at the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Smith, Couchman and Beran examine the theoretical and philosophical problems associated with the attribution of self-reflective, conscious mind to nonverbal animals.
Philosophical Transactions is a highly visible journal in the biological sciences and one of the oldest scientific journals published in English.
“The possibility of animal metacognition has become one of the research focal points in comparative psychology today,” Smith says, “but, of course, this possibility poses difficult issues of scientific interpretation and inference.” In this article, they evaluate the standards that science brings to making difficult interpretations about animal minds, describing how standards have been applied historically and as they perhaps should be applied. The article concludes that macaques do show uncertainty-monitoring capacities that are similar to those in humans.
The other contribution, “Animal Metacognition,” will be published in March by Oxford University Press in the volume “Comparative Cognition: Experimental Explorations of Animal Intelligence.” Smith says this volume will be one of the preeminent sources for scholarship in animal cognition for the next decade.