Dr. Anne Rose’s Lecture titled “How American Behavior Scientists Rediscovered the Emotions of Animals”

Villanova had the honor of having a professor from Pennsylvania State University give a presentation titled “How American Behavior Scientists Rediscovered the Emotions of Animals.” The guest speaker, Dr. Anne Rose and Dean Lindenmeyr from the College of Arts and Sciences both studied at Carnegie Melon University together during their undergraduate years before going their separate ways to continue their education and pursue careers in education at the college level. Dr. Anne Rose is currently a Professor of History and Religious Studies at Penn State’s University Park Campus. Dr. Rose is working on book titled In the Hearts of the Beasts: Animal Emotions in American Psychology, 1890-1945. This project focuses on the issues that emotion presents in psychology and how studying animal behavior helped to understand emotion better.

Throughout her presentation she examined theories by various behaviorists to demonstrate how studying animals helped to learn more about emotion. Charles Darwin was one of the first theorists to examine the emotion of animals in his book, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. He makes the observation that sounds produced by animals and their physical expressions help determine their emotions. Dr. Rose described the evolution of the study of animal emotion from 1890-1945. It was interesting to hear about the collaboration between both psychologist and biologists throughout this period. She also provided the audience with her working definition of emotion: “emotions have a physical basis in the nervous, endocrine and digestive systems but also depend on immediate awareness in at least some organisms.” Dr. Ross used the definitions of others to explain how difficult it is to study emotions. If it is hard to understand another human’s emotion because of the private nature of emotions, it is exponentially more difficult to study animal emotions. Through the period of 1890-1945, American psychologists were very devoted empiricism by observing animals in empirical ways.

The evening ended with some questions from the audience and a great reception with cookies and fruit. We are very grateful to Dr. Rose for coming to speak at Villanova!