Commentary Type

Invited Commentary


We discuss the definition of empathy provided by Kujala (2017) and argue that research in this field, in assigning the cognitive component of empathy only a secondary role, misses crucial information. Further knowledge about dogs’ ability for higher cognitive processes helps (a) in interpreting results such as potential prosocial behavior in dogs and (b) sheds light on the question of whether abilities like perspective-taking and self-other distinction are uniquely human.

Author Biography

Magdalena Boch is a PhD student at the University of Vienna, Austria. Her research interests include social and comparative cognition with a focus on the evolutionary roots of the social brain by comparing the neural underpinnings of social skills in dogs and humans. scan.psy.univie.ac.at

Claus Lamm is a Professor of Biological Psychology and head of the Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (SCAN) Unit at the University of Vienna, Austria. His research interests include the underlying psychological, biological and behavioral mechanisms of social cognition, with a main interest in the proximate and ultimate mechanisms of empathy.