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A "how-to" guide for designing judgment bias studies to assess captive animal welfare

By E. J. Bethell

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Robust methods to assess nonhuman animal emotion are essential for ensuring good welfare in captivity. Cognitive bias measures such as the judgment bias task have recently emerged as promising tools to assess animal emotion. The simple design and objective response measures make judgment bias tasks suitable for use across species and contexts. In reviewing 64 studies published to date, it emerged that (a) judgment biases have been measured in a number of mammals and birds and an invertebrate; (b) no study has tested judgment bias in any species of fish, amphibian, or reptile; and (c) no study has yet investigated judgment bias in a zoo or aquarium. This article proposes that judgment bias measures are highly suitable for use with these understudied taxa and can provide new insight into welfare in endangered species housed in zoos and aquariums, where poor welfare impacts breeding success and, ultimately, species survival. The article includes a "how-to" guide to designing judgment bias tests with recommendations for working with currently neglected "exotics" including fishes, amphibians, and reptiles.

Publication Title Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Volume 18
Issue Suppl. 1
Pages S18-S42
ISBN/ISSN 1088-8705
Language English
Author Address School of Natural Sciences and Psychology, Liverpool John Moores University, James Parsons Building, Byrom Street, Liverpool L3 3AF,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animals
  2. Animal welfare
  3. Aquacultural and fisheries
  4. Aquatic organisms
  5. Birds
  6. Endangered species
  7. Fish
  8. Gardens
  9. Guidelines
  10. Mammals
  11. peer-reviewed
  12. Reptiles
  13. Research
  14. survival
  15. vertebrates
  16. Zoo and captive wild animals
  1. peer-reviewed