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


What is needed to make meaningful claims about an animal’s capacity for subjective experience? Cook et al. (2018) attempt to study jealousy in dogs by placing them in a particular context and then seeing whether they display a particular brain state. We argue that this approach to studying jealousy falls short for two related reasons. First, the relationship between jealousy and the selected context is unclear. Second, the relationship between jealousy and the selected brain state (indeed, any single brain state) is unclear. These and other issues seriously limit what this study can show. It is important not to see this study as showing more than it does.

Author Biography

Alexandra Horowitz is adjunct associate professor of Psychology and English and head of the Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College. She studies the perceptual experience of dogs as well as aspects of the human-dog relationships. Website

Becca Franks is a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Studies at New York University. She studies well-being and motivation, with a particular focus on aquatic animal welfare. Website

Jeff Sebo is clinical assistant professor of Environmental Studies; affiliated professor of Bioethics, Medical Ethics, and Philosophy; and director of the Animal Studies M.A. Program at New York University. He studies bioethics, animal ethics, and environmental ethics. Website