Animal feelings part 2: Inside and Out
The next step on our journey into animal emotion, would be to come up with a generalised framework for finding out what animals are feeling. Backtrack a second though. How would we do this for humans? Emotions aren’t a physical thing that we can directly measure (in contrast to, say, the length of a limb). We can, however, gain access to someone’s mental state by simply asking them how they’re feeling.
But what about non-verbal humans or animals? Therein lies the challenge. Instead of trying to access their mental state, we need to look at the outward manifestations of that mental state. In other words, look at the changes to physiology, behaviour, the face, ears or body language that co-inside with an emotion. We can then conclude the animal is feeling a particular emotion because we can correlate these changes with our own experience (e.g. when I’m in a threatening situation I feel scared and my heart pounds and I sweat, therefore if an animal has a similar reaction in a similar situation we can assume they are also scared).