MadSci Network: Zoology

Re: Have pigs got a higher IQ than dogs?

Date: Wed Apr 12 12:20:33 2000
Posted By: Salvatore Cullari, Professor and Chair, Lebanon Valley College
Area of science: Zoology
ID: 954856852.Zo

Dear Lyndsey, thank-you for your thoughtful question.  A simple answer is 
"yes", most experts believe that pigs are smarter than dogs.  Note however,  
that on an individual basis, it is possible for a particular dog to be 
"smarter" than a particular pig and so on.  On the other hand, like most 
other questions in science, this simple answer is only part of the story. 
The term "IQ" (intelligence quotient) refers to a test score. In principle, 
an animal can be given a test and the obtained score can compared to other 
animals via norms, so a derived score can be computed and comparisons can be 
made both within and between species.  In humans, the score you obtain on an 
IQ test is compared to a group of persons of similar age, and a relative 
standing is formulated (which is the IQ score).  However, as far as I know,  
this has never been done with any animals, so my answer about the "IQ" of 
pigs above is simply an educated guess.  In other words, we do not really 
have a construct for animals that is equivalent to the term of IQ in humans. 

However, psychologists have studied various processes in animals that may be 
correlated with intelligence.  I have an extensive list of readings for you 
below with illustrations of these.  For example, behavior varies in 
complexity and the more complex behavior is usually considered to be 
positively correlated with higher levels of intelligence.    In this case, 
we know that some animals use tools, some animals appear to have something 
similar to language and a lot of animals are very good at solving various 
puzzles. One of the problems with cross-species comparisons (aside from the 
enormous amount of time it would take) is that "intelligence" is very much 
task-dependent. For example, there are tasks that dolphins perform better 
than humans,  and pigeons perform better than Dolphins. A similar problem is 
that psychologists have a difficult time agreeing on a common definition of 
IQ for humans. Given the complexity of our animal kingdom, it would be a 
daunting task to come up with an acceptable definition of IQ for animals 
across the various species. 

I have listed a number of sources below for you to do further investigations 
on this topic. The internet source has a number of interesting examples of 
animal behaviors that may be considered indicative of intelligence.

Breland, K. & Breland, M. (1961). The misbehavior of organisms. American 
Psychologist, 16, 681-683.

The Intelligence of Dogs : A Guide to the Thoughts, Emotions, and Inner 
Lives of Our Canine Companions. Stanley Coran, Bantam Books.

An interesting account of animal behavior observation and  interpretation 
could be found in: Sebeok, T.A. & Rosenthal, R. (1981). The Clever Hans 
phenomenon: Communication with horses, whales, apes, and people. Annals of 
the New York Academy of Sciences, 364.
Denny, M. R. (1980). Complex behavior: Traditional comparative psychology. 
In M. R. Denny (Ed.), Comparative psychology: An evolutionary analysis of 
animal behavior (pp. 249-266). New York: John Wiley.

Denny, M. R., & Ratner, S. C. (1970). Comparative psychology. Homewood, IL: 
Dorsey Press.

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