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Assuming Motivation

“Look at these cute dogs cuddling together.  They must really love each other!”

We often make assumptions about behavior when we shouldn’t.  Humans love to give other animals human qualities (i.e., anthropomorphism).  This is fine when we’re just being silly, but we also have a tendency to do this without realizing what we are doing.  Making assumptions about what animals know, how they think, and how they are responding to their world is not useful in the study of behavior.  Anthropomorphism may stifle our ability to understand what the animal is really doing!  Metaphorical anthropomorphism, however, can be a useful tool in developing hypotheses and in thinking about behavior if used carefully and rigorously.

What other hypotheses can you form regarding the behavior of these dogs?

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