The functioning of human society depends largely on our abilities to work with others toward shared goals and to work on behalf of others to help them achieve their goals. How do we learn to be prosocial? What keeps us from helping others?
We examine the evolution and development of prosociality, focusing on the social, cognitive, and temperamental factors that shape how we help, share, comfort, and cooperate. (Read more about an ongoing study here.)
What are dogs thinking? Our lab is particularly interested in what dogs think about objects. We grant dogs ownership of objects in much same way as we do with children, and some have suggested that humans selected for 'ownership' traits during canine domestication.
We examine how pet and working dogs attend to, remember, and value objects that they 'own'. Our findings may provide important information for the training and evaluation of working dogs.
Teaching Comparative Cognition
The scientific study of animal cognition has roots in experimental psychology and evolutionary biology, with researchers often working in neuroscience, computing science, or ecology. As a consequence, students may encounter comparative cognition research in different courses or programs, depending on the institution.
We present approaches to teaching animal cognition that include techniques for lecture-based and online courses, as well as smaller courses emphasizing hands-on learning.
Dr. Kristen Dunfield