Dr. Ellen Furlong will give a talk on comparative cognition as part of the Cognitive and Behavioral Sciences (CBS) Colloquium Series.

Professor Ellen Furlong will give a talk on comparative cognition as part of the Cognitive and Behavioral Sciences (CBS) Colloquium Series.

The Department of Psychology and the Cognitive and Behavioral Sciences (CBS) Colloquium Series will present a talk, titled “Comparative Cognition: What Animals Can Teach Us About our Minds,” with Ellen Furlong, Ph.D., Friday, February 12, at 2 p.m. in 48 DeGarmo Hall. Furlong is an assistant professor of psychology at Illinois Wesleyan University.


Despite our intelligence, humans make many puzzling decisions: We compete when we should cooperate, risk when we should play it safe, and prefer receiving nothing to anything less than our perceived fair share. Why do we make such strange decisions? What are the psychological mechanisms underlying them? I will share some surprising insights my students, collaborators, and I have gained about these questions through our exploration of ape, monkey, and dog minds.

Specifically I will discuss how evolution has shaped the way we reason, the mistakes we make, and why apparently irrelevant factors have such sway over our behavior. I will then turn to questions whose answers should have more practical applications: How can we use this newfound information to improve the lives of our human and nonhuman subjects alike? Can we help humans avoid these behavioral traps and make better decisions? And can we use these insights about animal minds to improve their welfare?

CBS Colloquium Series

The CBS Colloquium Series brings high-caliber researchers to the Illinois State University campus to share their work with the local academic community. Individual faculty members invite speakers to campus based on their interests. The Department of Psychology also invites alumni to speak in the series in an effort to maintain strong connections with former students and provide them with a chance to pass on their knowledge to current students. The series provides both faculty and students with a variety of professional development opportunities and allows students to network with professionals in their field of study.

This speaker series is funded by the Department of Psychology. To support the Department of Psychology and help enhance its educational mission with advanced teaching methods, guest speakers, and more opportunities for students to learn through research experiences, please consider making a gift to the department through the Illinois State University Foundation.

If you need a special accommodation to participate in this program, call the Department of Psychology at (309) 439-8651. Please allow sufficient time to arrange the accommodation.