In a new study, researchers have concluded that bees can show an emotional state like that associated with vertebrate animals. Considering the fact that bees are very social and their survival depends upon intricate cooperation, one might not wonder at the possibility they have emotion, or at least their version of it. The researchers found agitated bees displayed expectations of bad outcomes, and reduced levels of neurotransmitters associated with depression. An evolutionary neurobiologist who was not affiliated with study said, “The methodology is sound. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they are tapping into bee emotions. After all, every animal has to have emotions in order to learn and to make decisions. And we already know from many other studies that bees are really cognitively sophisticated.” (Source: Wired.com)
Pessimism was also observed in dogs–its extent depended on their living situations and events they had experienced. Another animal study about chickens found that they have empathy, which is also tied to emotion. One study of dogs from the 1960s actually contributed an important concept that is useful in human psychology–learned helplessness. Dogs that were shocked randomly with no chance of stopping the shocks or learning how to escape them, simply became completely passive after some time. Their behavior was seen as consistent with clinical depression in humans.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has been aware of some of the research that emotion could be common to many animal species. Historically, humans have viewed themselves as superior to other species. Some even believe other species only exist to serve as food for humans, and we can dominate them without mercy. Fortunately, science is slowly overturning centuries of ignorance. Naysaying to this new bee research is a fairly predictable response, considering some people even deny their own emotions.
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