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October 08, 2008


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Randall Johnson

In her doctoral dissertation, Alexandra Horowitz developed a cogent, well-argued case in support of a ‘rudimentary’ theory of mind (rTOM), based on extensive analyses of social play behavior in dogs. Since then, she has been consistent in further describing and elaborating upon her theory. However, the sense of caution she sometimes shows may be due to the fact that not everyone understands the ‘theory of mind’ concept and it can be misunderstood or misrepresented. For instance, Dr. Horowoitz was a speaker at the first Canine Science Forum, held in Budapest, Hungary in early July of this year. Her presentation inspired a piece that was published in New Scientist, but the resulting article made it sound as though she had changed her mind and was now going in the opposite direction. I called attention to this seeming inconsistency and she told me, via e-mail, that the article had, indeed, misrepresented her theory and that “something got lost in the editing process”. She assured me that she has not changed her views and continues to support the rTOM concept as introduced in her dissertation.

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