When we see the behaviour of an animal, for instance an ant returning to its nest, we naturally tend to interpret it in terms of human behaviour. But how valid is this interpretation - can we say that animals think in the same way as humans? That is the question addressed by this book. Each chapter looks at an aspect of mind, such as self-awareness and explains what research has been done to study this aspect in animals. Thus our intuitive view of animal thought processes is critically examined via scientific studies. The book is well written, and will be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in the behaviour of animals.
Animal studies such as these can also tell us about ourselves. For instance studies of number sense can also be applied to babies, and so indicate whether such a sense is learned or intrinsic. Hauser treats claims that animals experience the same mental processes as humans with justifiable caution. However, sometimes he seems to take this a bit far, for instance in saying that to describe something as a punishment both the punisher and the recipient need to know what it is for - even in humans this is often not the case.