Animal Aesthetics from the Perspective of Comparative Cognition

Part of the The Science of the Mind book series (The Science of the Mind)


This chapter discusses the aesthetic behavior of animals from three aspects, namely cognitive or discriminative property, pleasure or reinforcing property, and creation or motor skills. There are many examples of discrimination of aesthetic stimuli by animals. A wide range of animals, from fish to primates, successfully learn discrimination of music, while preference for particular music is rather rare in animals, although songbirds prefer some musical stimuli to others. Pigeons can discriminate good pictures from bad pictures and zebra finches prefer particular styles of paintings to others. Experimental evidence thus suggests that animals also have the ability to discriminate and enjoy aesthetic stimuli. Some animals, such as chimpanzees and elephants, draw and paint, and their behavior may be maintained by self-reinforcement, although there are numerous examples of training by other reward. However, the animals do not “enjoy” their products and the products do not have a reinforcing property to other conspecifics. This constitutes the clear difference between human art and the art-like behavior of animals.


Nonhuman Animal Generalization Test Terminal Link Functional Autonomy Musical Preference 
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© Springer Japan 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyKeio UniversityTokyoJapan

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