A question that is on many peoples minds is whether animals are able to communicate and express their emotions the way human beings do. Language is perceived as a rather complex means of communication that is present among humans. Animals may not have mastered an advanced language or have the ability to speak. However, they, without doubt, possess other means of communicating with each other. They also have emotions and ways of letting them known. By looking at and listening to animals, it is possible to learn about what is going on inside their heads.
Researchers agree that animals do not possess a true language as is the case with humans. All in all, they do pass messages with one another by making a variety of sounds and gestures. For instance, dogs wag their tails when they are excited, and birds chirp pleasant melodies while trying to attract those of the opposite sex. According to Palagi (312), animals possess several in-born traits that they use to express their feelings, although they are not like the well-formed words found in human languages. As infants, human offspring display similar forms of communication through gesturing and crying. They then gradually learn a certain languages words and apply them as a way of communication. If children were isolated away from fellow humans immediately after birth, they would never learn these words and subsequently would be unable to communicate. Their main form of communication would end up being gestures and sounds.
A few decades ago, researchers were not sure whether animals have emotions. Nowadays, however, there is a much less number of skeptics as well-known scientific journals contain essays on things like grieving elephants and joyous rats. Whether or not animals display feelings is not the most important issue, but rather why emotions have evolved. In simple language, emotions have undergone evolution as a way of various animal species adapting to their environment. They act as a social strategy among animals and a means of regulating various social encounters between allies and enemies. Emotions allow animals to behave in a way that matches with their immediate environment. For instance, research shows that mice are fun-loving and empathic rodents. There have been reports of temperamental baboons, pleasure-loving iguanas, passionate whales, and elephants that experience post-traumatic stress disorder and psychological flashbacks (Vanutelli & Michela, 6).
Some researchers suggest that human traits have to be attributed to animals when discussing animal emotions. If this is done carefully, it is possible to have a better understanding of the animals perspective. Researchers are in agreement that human beings and animals share numerous characteristics, one of them being emotions. Close emotional relationships can be expected between animals belonging to the same species. However, such relations sometimes occur between those of different species, including animals that are by nature predator and prey. A good example is a lioness that adopted a young Oryx in northern Kenya on several occasions.
Mirror neurons assist in explaining emotions such as empathy in animals. Research carried out on these neurons underline the idea that individuals experience what others feel. They enable people to understand why others behave in a certain manner by imagining themselves behaving in a similar way and mentally getting into their shoes. The extent to which various living things share this ability is not known, but there is proof that human beings are not the only ones that possess it. For example, chimpanzees and Diana monkeys assist each other get food, and elephants are known to comfort others during times of distress. The neurons also offer an explanation as to why rhesus monkeys decline food if a fellow monkey suffers in the process. It also helps understand why empathic mice react more aggressively to any painful activity when they saw another mouse feel pain.
On communication, some may ask about the case of birds such as parrots that can talk or dogs that can be trained to understand commands. While dogs can learn to obey certain commands like sit and stay, it does not mean they understand the particular language used and thus can use it too. It is believed that dogs are experts when it comes to reading the intentions of their owners. However, they dont respond to the actual words spoken, but rather the tone with which it is mentioned. For instance, if the owner says bad dog in a friendly tone, the animal will most likely respond by wagging its tail. On the other hand, if he says good dog using an unpleasant tone, it will probably put its tail between the legs. Any birds being held in captivity have the ability to talk. All in all, perception is that the words do not have any meaning to them and they just copy any sound that they hear.
Its clear that animals have a way of communicating with each other even if they do not have a formal language like human beings. They tend to use sounds and gestures as a way of responding to various stimuli such as fear or hunger. Animals also have emotions and have ways of showing them. By observing their faces, eyes, bodies, and tails, humans can easily tell what is going on inside their heads. Works Cited
Filippi, Piera. "Emotional and interactional prosody across animal communication systems: a comparative approach to the emergence of language." Frontiers in psychology 7 (2016).
Langer, Susanne K. "Language and thought." LG Locke, WM Gibson, and G. Arms, Toward liberal education. New York: Rinehart and Company, Inc (1957).
Palagi, Elisabetta, et al. "Roughandtumble play as a window on animal communication." Biological Reviews 91.2 (2016): 311-327.
Vanutelli, Maria Elide, and Michela Balconi. "Perceiving emotions in humanhuman and humananimal interactions: Hemodynamic prefrontal activity (fNIRS) and empathic concern." Neuroscience letters 605 (2015): 1-6.
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