Abstract # 13332 Event # 74:

Scheduled for Thursday, August 22, 2019 03:00 PM-03:15 PM: (Room 309) Symposium


E. Bliss-Moreau
California National Primate Research Center, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA
     Essentialist assumptions about the nature of animals’ emotional lives and our abilities, as their human caretakers, to understand them, are foundational building blocks of modern animal welfare science. Nevertheless, rarely, if ever, are these philosophical and scientific assumptions questioned. Essentialist beliefs about emotions have persisted in the study of humans and animals for almost a century, despite accumulating evidence that emotions do not have essences – outputs such as physiological patterns, facial behaviors, vocal behaviors, and hormonal levels that give discrete and specific evidence of particular emotions. In the absence behavioral and physiological outputs that provide veridical information about the emotion state of another agent (be that another human, or an animal), major questions arise regarding how to determine and understand the emotions of others without verbal self-reports – a critical task for comparative and translational science. This talk provides a primer on contemporary emotion theory, illustrating new approaches to understanding emotion across species and linking those approaches directly with modern animal welfare science. I illustrate how abandoning false essentialist assumptions opens a host of opportunities to improve animal welfare and align studies of animal welfare across species, including with those of human wellbeing.