This poll/question considers birds and mammals. I'm pretty sure reptiles, amphibians and fish have emotions, but not in a way we would understand.
Also want to test a theory I have, feel free to discuss dare I say... debate,
or tell if your view has changed over the years.
Those who work with animals and train them, professional trainers, tend to speak in terms of drives
, rather than emotions.
Drives in this context refers to instictive or learned behaviors exhibited in the presence of certain stimuli.
Dogs are the animal with which I'm most familiar in this sense, having had training by a professional in dealing with dogs.
Dogs primary drives include predation, territorial defense, submission, and fear. They can relate to humans in all these drives, usually viewing humans as alphas, or sometimes as equals; sometimes as threats, and sometimes as prey animals.
I've seen all these drives modeled by real dogs, both in training classes and in "the field".
The funny thing is a dog can switch drives
like flipping a lightswitch. Seriously, they can be in predation mode, ripping the crap out of a trainer's protective sleeve... then two seconds later the same trainer can be petting them on the head, once the context that made them "go predator" is removed.
I won't say that dogs don't have feelings of some kind, because I believe they do; but I think their feelings operate very differently from humans.
How many humans can turn their emotions on and off like that? Switch from "KILL!!!!" to "oh you want to scratch my ears? Joy joy joy..." in two seconds? Well, the human equivalents of those feelings I mean. :mrgreen:
Human emotions tend to be more persistent. We have long-lasting emotional reactions to things that engender strong feelings, even long after the stimulus is removed. For the most part, dogs don't seem to.
I won't say that animals don't have feelings and emotions of some kind
, based on instinctive drives and some degree of learned behavior, but I don't think there is any close correlation to human
emotions. Human emotions, like human thoughts, can have incredible depths and nuances; animal feelings/drives tend to be fairly simple and directly correlate to their basic drives: food, survival, reproduction, pack status, etc.
My two bits..