The question of animal intelligence

Intelligence has been a difficult characteristic to define and study in humans. Various definitions and theoretical perspectives abound, addressing such issues as whether intelligence is composed of one general factor or several factors and, if several, which ones. Regardless of theoretical stance, the measurement of intelligence has been difficult and fraught with controversy. As with the concept of intelligence in humans, intelligence in nonhuman animals has been difficult to define and investigate. A definition of intelligence applicable to nonhuman animals includes aspects of learning, memory, social cognition, conceptual ability, problem-solving ability, and cognitive flexibility. Measures of intelligence must include items or tasks appropriate to the organism being studied. The determination of intelligence in animals is complicated by the lack of verbal ability in non-humans. It is difficult to pose a question to an animal who cannot respond with a verbal answer. Investigators in animal behavior and intelligence have developed several tech niques designed to understand the animal mind through directly observable behaviors. Examples of these techniques are considered below.

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