Comparative Analyses of Learning
At the heart of most human cultures lie stories and anecdotes comparing the mental abilities of different animals, especially the relative intelli gence of human and nonhuman animals. A fre quent point of these stories is to impress the lis tener that nonhuman animals are as clever as, and possibly wiser than, most humans. A sec ond point is that nonhuman animals can equal or surpass humans in silly, greedy, unpleasant, and simple-minded behavior. Finally, in yet other stories, animals closely emulate average humans, so much so that they can be treated as informative and often humorous models. Al though Western culture has its own versions of such comparisons, the latter half of the 19th century marked an important watershed in why and how scientists compare learning in differ ent animals.