Commentary Type

Invited Commentary


Peter Cook, Ashley Prichard, Mark Spivak, and Gregory S. Berns, Jealousy in dogs? Evidence from brain imaging


The debate about animal emotions relies heavily on empirical evidence, which is often open to multiple interpretations. This ambiguity allows researchers at either end of the spectrum to perceive support for their positions in study results. Thus, evidence reported by Cook and colleagues (2018) – that dogs’ trait aggression is associated with their amygdala activation when watching their caregivers feed a fake dog – may be interpreted by some as neural evidence for jealousy in dogs and by others as an artefact of the study design. I argue that the discussion should be complemented with a greater consideration of theoretical arguments about the (social) functions of emotions. Theory and research on the intrapersonal and interpersonal effects of emotions are consistent with the hypothesis that various non-human social animals can experience and communicate emotions, although the labeling of these emotions is not self-evident.

Author Biography

Gerben A. van Kleef is professor of social psychology at the University of Amsterdam. His main research themes revolve around the social effects of emotions, the antecedents and consequences of power and hierarchy, and the social dynamics of norm violation versus norm adherence. Website