Do ravens have a theory of mind? A new experiment suggests “yes”

16 May

“corvids possess a basic Theory of Mind, the ability to attribute mental states like seeing to others”

Why Evolution Is True

A new paper in Nature Communications by Tomas Bugnhyar, Stepehen Reber, and Cameron Buckner (free download; reference below) examines the question of whether ravens, already known to be really smart, have a “theory of mind.”

What do we mean by that? Well, according to the authors, a “theory of mind’ means that animals can have a representation of an action performed by other animals, and then act on that representation rather than having to see the action itself. In other words, the animal imagines that another individual of its species is around, and then, without using visual cues, acts according to what it thinks the other animal is thinking and will do.

To be specific, in this case the researchers studied the behavior of ravens in caching food, and how that ability changed if the ravens thought another individual was around but couldn’t see it.

It’s been known for a while that when…

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