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Dairy Science, Veterinary and Animal Husbandry
Dairy Science, Veterinary and Animal Husbandry


Research Article

Measuring Animal Welfare - Assessing Cognitive Bias as a Potential Approach

Sandra LOCKENER, Dr. Anna-Caroline WOHR, Prof. Michael ERHARD

Correspondence Address :

Anna-Caroline Wohr
Institute for Animal Welfare
Ethology and Animal Hygiene of the Veterinary Faculty of Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich
Tel: +49 89 2180-78308

Received on: July 01, 2019, Accepted on: July 09, 2019, Published on: July 16, 2019

Citation: Sandra LOCKENER, Dr. Anna-Caroline WOHR, Prof. Michael ERHARD (2019). Measuring Animal Welfare - Assessing Cognitive Bias as a Potential Approach

Copyright: 2019 Anna-Caroline Wohr et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

  • Abstract

The evaluation of an animal's emotional state and its well-being poses a challenge to current research. Direct measurement of emotion is inaccessible, so assessment relies on measures of affective states that are predominantly influenced by emotions and important indicators. Studies that used physiological, cognitive or behavioural measurements have shown the assessment of cognitive and judgement bias to be a suitable method to gain insight into the affective state and welfare of animals. Although these method does not always allow a clear interpretation of the results with respect to the affective state, animals in discrimination tasks generally show a pessimistic judgement bias when they are in a negative affective state. This tendency agrees with cognitive theories stating that an individual's assessment of a situation gives information about the involved emotions.
Therefore, the analysis of cognitive bias may allow assessing the influence of various factors on an animal's affective state and, if appropriate, creating conditions that result in a positive affective state for animals in husbandry. As it is our aim to highlight useful methods for determining the welfare of animals in husbandry, we here review underlying theories of cognition and affect, evaluate their relevancy to animal behaviour and give an overview of applicable methods and their outcomes.

Keywords: Affective state, animal welfare, attention, emotion, judgement bias, memory