Review Of "Animal Intelligence: Experimental Studies" By E. L. Thorndike

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One hundred years ago, Thorndike's experiments on the learning of cats, dogs, chickens, and fish initiated the study of comparative psychology. This futile effort to rank animals on a single scale of intelligence was doomed by the researcher's ignorance of evolution and the adaptive significance of behavior. This reissue of the 1911 monograph by Thorndike (d. 1949) will interest historians of science. The work was written in refreshingly plain English and contains many figures and tables with his experimental data, and a short index. The brief introduction summarizes the work but fails to relate Thorndike to the biological and psychological studies of animal behavior that it stimulated; see James L. Gould's Ethology: The Mechanisms and Evolution of Behavior (CH, Jul'82) or John Alcock's Animal Behavior: An Evolutionary Approach (1st ed., CH Jun'75; 6th ed., 1998). Several modern works have treated the subject of animal intelligence, among them Leslie Rogers's Minds of Their Own (CH, Jan'99). Graduate students; faculty.


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