Affiliation in Nonhuman Animals: There’s More Than Meets the Eye

Affiliation in Nonhuman Animals: There’s More Than Meets the Eye

Contributed by Marielle Grenade-Willis

The ability to recognize another is what forms the social and cohesive glue in any interaction. Martha Nussbaum’s 7th capability in the Human Development Approach is affiliation: “Being able to live with and toward others, to recognize and show concern for other human beings, to engage in various forms of social interaction; to be able to imagine the situation of another.” Nonhuman animals like sheep have now been found to possess this recognition ability in a new study published by the journal, Royal Society Open Science. Eight participants were trained and shown images of four well-known celebrities as well as that of their handler to gage whether the sheep could actively differentiate the familiar faces from the unknown ones. To ensure that the sheep were not just memorizing pattern or order of images shown, the experimenters also displayed images at different dimensional angles and the sheep were still able to recognize who was who. “Together these data show that sheep have advanced face-recognition abilities, comparable with those of humans and non-human primates.”