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VickiNumbers
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PostSubject: Do parrots have emotions?   Wed Jan 25, 2012 2:53 pm

What do you think?

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PostSubject: Re: Do parrots have emotions?   Wed Jan 25, 2012 3:16 pm

Well, define "emotion". For that matter, define "to have emotion". Can we do better than a Turing Test kind of thing? If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, is that sufficient to call it a duck?

My personal feeling is that animals are different from humans in degree rather than kind, but birds are more different from humans than mammals are, so it's a little harder to guess what that subjective landscape is like.

This isn't an area where there is a lot of data, but certainly Pepperberg's work with Alex suggests fairly complex cognition. They appear to have moods. They choose favorites, they play. The certainly become startled and appear to experience fear. So my best guess is that yes, they do have basic emotions.

However, I don't think its wise to assume that they experience feelings the same way people do. They may feel "love" but I wouldn't expect it to be unconditional or romantic in the sentimental sense.

Another interesting question and one that I think is a bit harder still to address is, are they self-aware in a Cartesian sense ("I think, therefore I am").
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GlassOnion
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PostSubject: Re: Do parrots have emotions?   Wed Jan 25, 2012 3:19 pm

There was a discussion of this on Michael's forum, and I agree with what Mona said:

Quote :
Fun topic and it draws me in but I don't have much time. I like your reasoning, however; as you state and others do, it's perfectly obvious that parrots have emotions. You don't need a scientific study...just consider the definition:

Emotion: any strong agitation of the feelings actuated by experiencing love, hate, fear, etc. and usually accompanied by certain physiological changes, as increased heartbeat or respiration, and often overt manifestation, as crying or shaking.

I think most of this have experienced something "overt" with our parrots that indicates an emotional state. The most obvious place is through the heartbeat or even in the feet. It's easier to "see" if you have a strong bond with the animal so that it welcomes your touch. (If it's fearful of your touch, you are always going to get that physiological sensation of fear so you won't be able to measure change). I could probably list dozens of examples, but what comes to my head quickly is when I ask my small parrot (Babylon is the easiest for me) to step up to somebody. If she is comfortable with that person, her feet are steady and you won't feel any shaking. If she is not comfortable, I can feel a slight shaking in her feet. I read alot of emotions through the feet with my hens.

Another very, very obvious emotional reaction happens with night frights. Babylon will beat herself up in her cage when she gets these. It's a pretty extreme fear reaction and I have to take her in my hand and snuggle her. Her heartbeat is wild and if I release her from my hand, she will take off flying around the room. If't's dark, she hits walls. I hold her until her heartbeat slows down. It's an amazing feeling. Once her heartbeat slows down, I can place her back in the cage and she is fine. This can take 10 to 15 minutes at night. Over the next few days, she becomes quiet docile with me and will whimper and cuddle a lot more than usual. It's something a "pet owner" can easily measure....maybe not so much an "objective scientist" because they may not have that ability to get close enough to see it.
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PostSubject: Re: Do parrots have emotions?   Wed Jan 25, 2012 3:22 pm

Wasn't "I think, therefore I am" by Descartes? thinking
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PostSubject: Re: Do parrots have emotions?   Wed Jan 25, 2012 3:34 pm

GlassOnion wrote:
Wasn't "I think, therefore I am" by Descartes? thinking

Des CARTES, CARTEsian.

You know the Descartes on the airplane joke, right.

Descartes is on an airplane. The flight attendant asks, "Would you like some coffee or tea sir?" He replies "I think not." And promptly vanishes.

And yes, the Cartesian coordinate system comes form the same origin.
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GlassOnion
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PostSubject: Re: Do parrots have emotions?   Wed Jan 25, 2012 3:41 pm

LOL. That was so, so corny. RogerP
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PostSubject: Re: Do parrots have emotions?   Wed Jan 25, 2012 3:41 pm

GlassOnion wrote:
There was a discussion of this on Michael's forum, and I agree with what Mona said:

That's the "if it quacks like a duck" argument. But another way of looking at the question is does a parrot subjectively feel similarly to a person when it is "frightened"? Or is a simple hardwired physical response ot a stimulus?

I think it is an excellent topic for scientific study, although incredibly difficult to approach. It's one thing to believe without evidence that things which appear the same are in fact the same, but it is far more compelling to be able to demonstrate the similarities in a measurable and reproducible way.
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PostSubject: Re: Do parrots have emotions?   Wed Jan 25, 2012 3:42 pm

GlassOnion wrote:
LOL. That was so, so corny. RogerP

Yep. Scientist jokes. There is a reason there aren't many standup science comedians...
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LyzGrace
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PostSubject: Re: Do parrots have emotions?   Wed Jan 25, 2012 4:14 pm

Meh, without getting scientific or psychological ('cause I'd definitley lose there...), I think sure, they feel contentment, fright, distress, irritation... stuff I think most animals feel.

I always used to have this conversation in my head about horses vs. dogs. I know my horse has emotion. It may not be too much more extensive than the list I put up top, but I've spent so many years with him I feel like I can read him pretty well.

I don't think anything in the entire animal kingdom displays emotion like dogs though. Call it the mans best friend ideology if you will but... my dog can SPEAK to me with his eyes. I think the range of emotion that a dog can express makes everything else pale in comparison, even if other animals CAN feel the same things without expression.
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VickiNumbers
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PostSubject: Re: Do parrots have emotions?   Wed Jan 25, 2012 4:31 pm

LyzGrace wrote:
I don't think anything in the entire animal kingdom displays emotion like dogs though. Call it the mans best friend ideology if you will but... my dog can SPEAK to me with his eyes. I think the range of emotion that a dog can express makes everything else pale in comparison, even if other animals CAN feel the same things without expression.

Hmm... Interesting that you say the range of emotion a dog can express vs the range of emotion a dog can feel... do you think there's any anthropomorphism going on in those exchanges?




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PostSubject: Re: Do parrots have emotions?   Wed Jan 25, 2012 4:45 pm

Yes, I believe they have emotions. Possibly not experienced in the way humans experience emotions. Thus the problem with anthropomorphism - "happy", "sad", "guilty" (I don't think birds suffer guilt! They LIVE to annoy us.), etc.

I tend to categorize mine into - "content", "not content", "distressed" based on my observations of behaviors.

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PostSubject: Re: Do parrots have emotions?   Wed Jan 25, 2012 4:55 pm

i need a dictionary to understand what you all are saying...truth of the matter is i believe they do feel emotion...my grey gets extremely jealous...one day my zon flew on my side and attacked me (animosity) quickly my sun conure flew over and landed on the zons neck biting its head (love)...coincidence? you tell me...


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PostSubject: Re: Do parrots have emotions?   Wed Jan 25, 2012 6:16 pm

dusty wrote:
i need a dictionary to understand what you all are saying...

If I can't say it in plain English I don't deserve to be pontificating thinking er, talking about it. I'm happy to try to translate me!

It used to be that folks would claim animals displaying those kind of behaviors were reacting sort of like biological machines in a knee-jerk fashion without really "feeling" anything. Even to the point of arguing that in some cases they learned to imitate emotion through rote conditioning because making a certain pose or facial expression resulted in some kind of rewarding behavior.

I don't think that's the party line anymore. A lot of what we humans experience as emotion is essentially the result of biology -- even if the emotion starts as a purely abstract thought, brain chemistry changes result from this and that alters how we feel. Higher animals (if it doesn't have a brain, I doubt it can have a subjective experience, so flatworms are probably not covered by this argument) have very similar biological mechanisms to ours. IMO it now seems more contrived to suppose they don't have changes in their mental state -- ie. "feelings" -- as a result than it does to suppose they do. Fear is a particularly clear example.

But how much like us are they really in terms of how it would be to exist inside that body and brain? I don't know. Based on observing Scooter, I'd say in some ways it is very, very different from my experience. But we lack any way to really KNOW that.
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PostSubject: Re: Do parrots have emotions?   Wed Jan 25, 2012 6:29 pm

Scientifically speaking, as SnS stated, its hard to quantify what's emotion and what's reaction.

Personally speaking, I feel that they do. Beyond showing jealousy and being startled, etc, I do get emotional responses from both Sebastian, who I have a close connection to. When I am upset or even crying, Sebastian will come to me and lay his cheek against mine and almost cry with me and stroke me with his own cheek to soothe me. He outwardly laughs like a child when we play and says "Wow!" when you show him something new and actually asks questions about the new object. That kind of response, for me at least, goes beyond response mimicry.

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PostSubject: Re: Do parrots have emotions?   Wed Jan 25, 2012 6:54 pm

Absolutely. I feel like people, some show it more then others. Sparrow and Toogie know my mood, I know there mood, and they seek out ways to comfort me. So does my cat. When I am sad or sick, he does not leave my side.
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PostSubject: Re: Do parrots have emotions?   Wed Jan 25, 2012 11:35 pm

Yes, they do have feelings.

They feel our moods, they are crappy when weather outside is ugly(just like us), they are jealous over the other birds or dogs, they get angry.
They miss us, cry (Lucky for my bf, when he doesn't show up day or two).
They are happy, when we are coming home(singing to us), they are exited, when they have favorite food or new toy.
Maybe in bird's world they don't call it feelings, I don't know, but in our human definition:

Morris Albert or your bird , when you pet him/her after coming home singing wrote:

Feelings, nothing more than feelings,
trying to forget my feelings of love.
Teardrops rolling down on my face,
trying to forget my feelings of love.

Feelings, for all my life I'll feel it.
I wish I've never met you, girl; you'll never come again.

Feelings, wo-o-o feelings,
wo-o-o, feel you again in my arms.

Wee, wee, weeweewee weewee
wee weewee wee wee, weeweewweeweeweewee

Singing Come on, you guys don't hear them singing that Wink
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PostSubject: Re: Do parrots have emotions?   Thu Jan 26, 2012 12:30 am

Well I agree that they display behavior that appears to reflect the same kind of feelings we have. But...

What if an artificial pet could be programmed to display similar behavior when it detects certain facial expressions or other observable data.... would it be correct to conclude it has feelings?

(Not saying I have an answer for that, but it does illustrate the basic underlying question.)
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PostSubject: Re: Do parrots have emotions?   Thu Jan 26, 2012 2:34 am

Deb, I totally understand what you're talking about and logically I agree with you, but I prefer to chose thinking that those are real birds feelings Wink
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PostSubject: Re: Do parrots have emotions?   Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:49 am

Deb, no, because you already said it was artificial and programmed!Wink
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PostSubject: Re: Do parrots have emotions?   Thu Jan 26, 2012 10:46 am

Keep in mind...you DID ask. This is my opinion and I am not going to even attempt any scientific debate.

YES they have emotions as much time as I spend in the company of Zons I have to say yes. I have watched them pout over being told NO, get excited at their "favorite" walking into a room or pulling into the driveway. I have seen them pull jokes on the dogs and us. I have seen them in mourning at the loss of a mate or cage mate..I have seen them play with us and each other with obvious happiness. The list goes on..I won't say it is the same as anything but a parrot but maybe they think we don't because it isn't the same as theirs..they are intelligent and I think that with that comes a range of emotion. I have had the fortune to encounter birds in many states when they arrive here and the biggest change i see is when they are finally introduced to the flock after quarrantine...it is amazing to watch the sense of calm that washes over them after the initial excitement of having others to "talk" to. The pinning of their eyes is another complete conversation and show of emotion that if we could understand might get us bit a little less often or loved and petted the same.
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PostSubject: Re: Do parrots have emotions?   Thu Jan 26, 2012 10:59 am

i totally agree with you flappinhappy...well said

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PostSubject: Re: Do parrots have emotions?   Thu Jan 26, 2012 11:26 am

I feel they feel.

As per Flappinhappy, Merlin plays with his toys and you can tell he's having fun (aka making his fun party sounds) - when he's upset and beating up his toys you can also tell just by the tone of his voice & the aggressive banging in his cage.

Rosco has his happy quacks and his upset "don't you dare that that away from me" quacks (aka temper tantrum).

Perfect Stryder example, I put him on our new Tri swing, and he loved it - it's 4 or 5 times bigger than the one in his cage (which he talks to and preens constantly) - and he began talking to it, chirpy happy sounds. When I took him off it, he started his sad chirps.

They may not wag their tails and bark happily when we come home from work like the dogs do, but they show emotion on a different level & in a different way.
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PostSubject: Re: Do parrots have emotions?   Thu Jan 26, 2012 2:36 pm

ScooterNScotty wrote:
GlassOnion wrote:
Wasn't "I think, therefore I am" by Descartes?

Des CARTES, CARTEsian.

You know the Descartes on the airplane joke, right.

Descartes
is on an airplane. The flight attendant asks, "Would you like some
coffee or tea sir?" He replies "I think not." And promptly vanishes.

And yes, the Cartesian coordinate system comes form the same origin.
lol! Okay, I admit I am a total nerd and laughed at that.

ScooterNScotty wrote:
Well, define "emotion". For that matter, define "to have emotion". Can we do better than a Turing Test kind of thing? If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, is that sufficient to call it a duck?

My personal feeling is that animals are different from humans in degree rather than kind, but birds are more different from humans than mammals are, so it's a little harder to guess what that subjective landscape is like.

This isn't an area where there is a lot of data, but certainly Pepperberg's work with Alex suggests fairly complex cognition. They appear to have moods. They choose favorites, they play. The certainly become startled and appear to experience fear. So my best guess is that yes, they do have basic emotions.

However, I don't think its wise to assume that they experience feelings the same way people do. They may feel "love" but I wouldn't expect it to be unconditional or romantic in the sentimental sense.

Another interesting question and one that I think is a bit harder still to address is, are they self-aware in a Cartesian sense ("I think, therefore I am").

ScooterNScotty wrote:
Well I agree that they display behavior that appears to reflect the same kind of feelings we have. But...

What if an artificial pet could be programmed to display similar behavior when it detects certain facial expressions or other observable data.... would it be correct to conclude it has feelings?

(Not saying I have an answer for that, but it does illustrate the basic underlying question.)
Tch, SnS you say everything I think but you articulate it much better. I'll try my hand though.

Vicki, your question can't be answered objectively. There isn't a way to measure emotion, because it's a subjective thing. Emotions are opinions, thought, things not everyone can observe and we have to rely on the person (or animal) telling us they feel the emotions. However, even when being told someone is feeling an emotion, there is no way to know for certain because we cannot directly observe it. Like if I were to tell you I'm sad, but I'm smiling, how can you tell whether I'm sad or not? How do you know I'm not angry and hiding it? How do you know I feel anything at all? You can't know. It is impossible. The only thing we CAN observe is behavior; whether the birds behave as if they are sad/angry/frightened/sympathetic/happy/etc. You can make a safe guess that I am in fact happy when I smile, but do you know I am? Like Data from Star Trek, whose goal was to feel emotion as humans do, how can you tell the bird isn't just mimicking emotion? You can't.

My answer to your question, Vicki, is yes. I do believe birds have and feel emotions. A different range than humans, but from my experience their behavior indicates to me that they do feel emotions. Do I know they do? No, and I don't think it's possible to know. But I believe they do.

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PostSubject: Re: Do parrots have emotions?   Thu Jan 26, 2012 3:00 pm

EC, those are some good points!

For me, the beauty of questions science cannot answer is that I can choose to believe something about it without having proof. I do that knowing that if there is ever better evidence, I may need to reevaluate my belief. And I believe they do experience something like emotion. I just feel compelled to emphasize, because I'm a scientist and a teacher of science, that it is a BELIEF and not a FACT.
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PostSubject: Re: Do parrots have emotions?   Thu Jan 26, 2012 3:10 pm

You can't say that when you sit and poke them repeatedly they don't get pissed. . . not that I would know. . . not that I poke my birds to piss them off. . .Don't ever poke your birds. . .
Singing

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