Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Many Minds

Mar 11, 2020

Welcome to our second episode—and our very first installment of Mini Minds! Mini Minds is a short, snack-sized format that will alternate with our longer conversations. Today’s Mini is a primer on the mirror self-recognition test. This is a classic paradigm in comparative psychology—and, as we’ll see, it continues to generate both results and criticism.

Thanks for listening, and we hope you enjoy the mini format!


A text version of this "mini" is readable here.


Notes and links

2:58 – Wilhelm Preyer’s observations on ducks.

3:15 – Wolfgang Kohler’s The Mentality of Apes.

3:33 – The original mirror test study by Gordon Gallup.

6:09 – Frans de Waal’s 2019 paper, offering a gradualist perspective on self-awareness in animals.

6:45 – Alexandra Horowitz’s 2017 paper, innovating an olfactory version of the mirror test for use in dogs.

8:56 – A recent study correlating brain structures in chimps with their performance on the mirror test.

9:05 – A recent study correlating chimps’ performance on the mirror test with other measures of their social cognition abilities.


The research surrounding the mirror test is truly vast—much vaster than could be covered in a short episode. Here are a couple recommendation for further reading:

A recent Aeon essay by Virgina Morell

A popular article about a recent finding of mirror self-recognition in the wrasse fish


Many Minds is a project of the Diverse Intelligences Summer Institute (DISI) (, which is made possible by a generous grant from the Templeton World Charity Foundation to UCLA. It is hosted by Kensy Cooperrider, with creative support from DISI Directors Erica Cartmill and Jacob Foster and Associate Director Hilda Loury. Our artwork is by Ben Oldroyd ( Our transcripts are created by Sarah Dopierala (

You can subscribe to Many Minds on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Google Play, or wherever you like to listen to podcasts.

We welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions. Feel free to email us at:

For updates about the show, follow us on Twitter: @ManyMindsPod.