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狗到底有多聪明?主人和科学家想的不一样

更新时间:2017-1-10 11:38:58 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

To Rate How Smart Dogs Are, Humans Learn New Tricks
狗到底有多聪明?主人和科学家想的不一样

Pam Giordano thinks her dog is quite intelligent, and she has proof: Giorgio, an 11-year-old Havanese, has diplomas stating he has a bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. from Yale. The bumper sticker on Ms. Giordano’s car announces, “My dog made it to the Ivy League.”

帕姆·焦尔达诺(Pam Giordano)认为自己的狗非常聪明,而且她有证据:11岁的哈威那犬乔治获得了耶鲁大学的学士、硕士和博士学位文凭。焦尔达诺的汽车保险杠贴上写着:“我的狗上了常春藤大学。”

The honors were bestowed on Giorgio and Giuliana, his sibling, for participating in the university’s Canine Cognition Center. “I wanted to know how much they know and how smart they are,” Ms. Giordano, a real estate broker in Branford, Conn., said. “I think Giuliana really just goes for the treats. But Giorgio rises above it. He is very bright. I would say he knows over 100 words.”

这份荣誉授予了乔治和与他同胞生的朱利亚娜,因为他们参与了这所大学的犬科动物认知中心(Canine Cognition Center)的研究。“我想知道,他们知道多少东西,有多聪明,”美国康涅狄格州布兰福德的房地产经纪布兰福德焦尔达诺说。“我认为朱利亚娜真的只是为了获得奖励的食物。但乔治不止于此。他非常聪明。我觉得他认识不止100个单词。”

Giorgio, 11, and his honors at the Yale Canine Cognition Center.
11岁的乔治和自己从耶鲁犬科动物认知中心获得的荣誉。

The Yale researchers are on to something. They have figured out how to tap into the willingness of dogs’ human companions to support their studies. Enthusiastically.

耶鲁大学的研究人员明白了一些事。他们已经知道如何利用狗的人类伙伴的意愿,来支持他们的研究,而且是非常热情地支持。

Suddenly how smart your dog is seems to matter — an aspiration that has also not gone unnoticed by the commercial pet industry. Walk into any pet supply chain, such as the aptly named PetSmart, and take in the toys, gadgets and foods advertised as optimizing a dog’s intelligence. Or just do an online search for “brain games to play with your dog.”

突然之间,你的狗有多聪明似乎变得重要起来——商业宠物行业也没有忽略这种渴望。走进任一家宠物商品连锁店,比如恰好命名为PetSmart(字面义为聪明的宠物——译注)的宠物店,看看那些被宣传可以提高狗的智力的玩具、设备和食物。或者就在网上搜索“和你的狗玩的益智游戏”。

The swelling interest, eagerly amplified by the pet industry, has given a boost to the relatively new academic field of canine cognition, with research centers sprouting up on campuses across the country. In the fall, the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science devoted an issue to the topic.

被宠物行业放大的不断膨胀的兴趣,助推了相对比较新的犬类认知学术领域,全国各地的校园里涌现出不少此类研究中心。今年秋天,《心理科学近期趋势》(Current Directions in Psychological Science)杂志还专门用一期讨论了这个话题。

At Yale, the three-year-old canine cognition center has been barraged by humans eager to have their dogs’ intelligence evaluated, volunteering them for research exercises and puzzles. Some owners drive for hours.

在耶鲁,成立三年的犬科动物认知中心已经不堪承受人们的热情,他们渴望给自己的狗评估智商,自愿让它们参加研究训练和智力游戏。有些为此不惜驱车几个小时。

“People like their kids to be smart, and they like their dogs to be smart,” said Laurie Santos, a professor of psychology who directs the center. “Some people will call and sound apologetic, saying, ‘I’d like to bring my dog in, but he might be too dumb.’”

“人们希望自己的孩子聪明,也希望自己的狗聪明,”领导该中心的心理学教授劳里·桑托斯(Laurie Santos)说。“有些人会打来电话,听起来有些歉意地说,‘我想让我的狗参加,但他可能太笨了。’”

(By the way, here’s a bubble-bursting secret: Smart dogs often aren’t that great to live with, precisely because they’re too smart.)

(顺便说一句,这里有一个戳破泡沫的秘诀:聪明的狗通常不太容易相处,原因恰恰是它们太聪明了。)

But when owners use “smart” and “dog” in the same sentence, what exactly do they mean? Smart compared with what? A cat? Another dog? A human?

但是当主人在同一句话中使用“聪明”和“狗”的时候,他们是什么意思呢?和什么相比很聪明?和猫比?和另一只狗比?还是和人比?

Scientists define and measure a dog’s smarts differently from the way owners do. Over a decade ago, evolutionary anthropologists realized that in the dog, whose development has been so strongly shaped by humans, they had a star subject to observe. Unlike gorillas, dogs are fairly inexpensive to study — their numbers are plentiful, their room and board happily covered by owners.

科学家对狗狗智能的定义和测量,和主人使用的方式是不一样的。狗的发育受到了人类的巨大影响,十多年前,进化人类学家认识到狗是一种非常好的观察对象。和大猩猩不一样,研究狗的成本相当低——它们的数量很多,主人很乐于为它们的食宿付钱。

Now some researchers are studying the dog’s brain. Others are trying to identify the dog’s cognitive abilities, debating about the extent to which dogs may be unique among animals. Comparative psychologists are looking at how those capacities stack up against those of children.

现在,有些研究人员在研究狗的大脑。还有一些在努力确定狗的认知能力,争论狗在多大程度上比其他动物更为独特。比较心理学家在将狗的能力与儿童的能力进行对比研究。

Experts agree that when owners discuss how smart their dogs are, they are imposing a human construct on an animal. A dog may seem “smarter” to its owner than the neighbor’s dog, but even the popular notion derived from some studies — that dogs are as intelligent as toddlers — is, practically speaking, meaningless.

专家认为,主人说自己的狗狗有多么聪明是在往动物身上强加人类概念。主人可能觉得自己的狗比邻居的狗看起来更“聪明”,但是就连从某些研究中延伸出来的流行说法——狗和幼儿一样聪明——实际上也是没有意义的。

Many animal behaviorists say that what people really mean when they call a dog smart is that the dog is highly trainable.

许多动物行为主义者说,当人们说一只狗聪明时,实际上是说它很容易训练。

But as some pet parents discover, a smart dog can seem less like an adorable toddler than a know-it-all teenager.

但是一些宠物主人发现,聪明的狗似乎不太像可爱的幼儿,而更像“什么都知道”的少年。

“Smart dogs are often a nuisance,” said Clive D. L. Wynne, a psychology professor who directs the Canine Science Collaboratory at Arizona State University. “They get restless, bored and create trouble.”

“聪明的狗通常有点烦人,”亚利桑那州立大学心理学教授、犬类科学合作实验室主管克利夫·D·L·韦恩(Clive D. L. Wynne)说。“它们会焦躁不安,感到无聊,还会创造麻烦。”

Though enthusiasm for canine research is fevered, funding can be hard to come by. Recently, some researchers have locked arms with commerce, to attract so-called citizen scientists (a.k.a. dog owners) to help collect data.

虽然犬科研究的热情十分高涨,但资金可能也难以筹集。近期一些研究人员和商业机构携手合作,吸引“公民科学家”(也就是狗主人)帮助收集数据。

Adam Miklosi, a prominent Hungarian canine behavioral researcher, plans to connect scientists with pet owners who can gather information about their dogs’ habits. His venture, SensDog, uses an iPhone app to communicate with Apple Watch sensors in the animal’s collar.

匈牙利知名犬类行为研究者亚当·密克罗西(Adam Miklosi)打算把科学家和可以搜集自家狗狗习性信息的宠物主人联结起来。他的公司SensDog利用一款苹果应用程序,连接安在狗项圈内的Apple Watch传感器。

Then there’s Dognition, whose website professes to “Find the Genius in Your Dog.” It’s a project led by Brian Hare of Duke University’s Canine Cognition Center in partnership with Purina Pro Plan’s Bright Mind line of dog foods. For $19, owners receive a questionnaire and video instructions to gather information about their dog and submit the data on Dognition’s website. Dognition then sends back a cognitive profile of the pet, especially in comparison with other dogs. More than 25,000 owners have submitted data so far.

还有犬认知(Dognition),其网站专门致力于“发掘你家狗狗的天赋”。这个项目是由杜克大学(Duke University)犬科动物认知研究中心(Canine Cognition Center)的布赖恩·黑尔(Brian Hare)与普瑞纳冠能(Purina Pro Plan)的Bright Mind狗粮系列合作发起的。狗主人支付19美元,就能收到一份问卷和指导其搜集自家狗狗信息的视频,并把相关信息提交给犬认知网站。随后,犬认知网站会给狗主人发来一份关于其狗狗认知特征——尤其是相较于其他狗狗的特别之处的报告。迄今为止已有超过2.5万名狗主人提交了信息。

Of course, we are still generally talking about dogs as a species. While stereotypes of breeds are deeply rooted, Dr. Hare said, there is no evidence to show that one breed is cognitively superior to another. But in 1999, Stanley Coren, now an emeritus psychologist at the University of British Columbia, produced a list of 110 breeds ranked by intelligence, based on his survey of some 200 professional dog-obedience judges. The top three: Border collie, then poodle followed by German shepherd.

当然了,我们是从整体上把狗当成当作一个物种来讨论的。尽管关于品种的刻板印象颇为深入人心,但黑尔说,没有证据显示一个品种比另一个品种在认知能力上更出色。不过,现为不列颠哥伦比亚大学(University of British Columbia)荣休心理学家的斯坦利·科伦(Stanley Coren),在1999年基于自己对大约200名犬只服从专业裁判的调查,给出了一份涉及110个品种的智力排行榜。前三甲分别是边境牧羊犬、贵宾犬和德国牧羊犬。

“Giorgio is one-third poodle, so he’s really smart a third of the time,” Ms. Giordano asserted.

“乔治有三分之一的贵宾犬血统,因此他在三分之一的时间里非常聪明,”焦尔达诺强调。

(Skulking down at the bottom of the list: bulldog, Basenji, Afghan hound. If it is any consolation, Dr. Hare said scientists did not consider surveys to be definitive proof.)

(位于榜单底部的则是:牛头犬、巴仙治犬和阿富汗猎犬。黑尔的话可能会让人感到一丝安慰,他说科学家并不把调查结果视为决定性证据。)

Certain dogs excel at tasks for which they have been bred for centuries. Bloodhounds have an astonishing sense of smell. Australian shepherds can keep a flock of sheep together as skillfully as a nursery school teacher with a playground full of 3-year-olds.

某些品种的狗在成百上千年间被培育出了特定的能力,善于完成特定的任务。寻血猎犬有着惊人的嗅觉。澳大利亚牧羊人让羊群中的羊不掉队的技巧,和幼儿园老师让满操场的3岁孩童保持队形的技巧一样娴熟。

And, distinctively, dogs seem to trust us for problem-solving help. When they are flummoxed (for example, the rubber ball becomes stuck under a bed, the kitchen door shuts), they turn to their humans, yipping, pawing, gazing dolefully. A wolf reared by a human, by contrast, will just keep trying to solve the problem on its own.

此外,很明显,狗狗似乎相信我们可以帮其解决问题。遇到麻烦时(比如:橡胶球被卡在了床底下;厨房的门关得很紧),它们总是向人类寻求帮助,会尖叫,会缠在你身边,会眼巴巴地望着你。相比之下,由人类饲养的狼则会不断设法自行解决问题。

But intelligence per se may not be the trait that truly sets dogs apart, at least in human-animal interaction, researchers say.

但研究人员称,智力本身或许并不是真正让狗与众不同的特征,至少在人与动物的互动中是如此。

“There is something remarkable about dogs,” said Dr. Wynne, who is studying how to train dogs to sniff for bomb-making ingredients. “They have this kind of open hyper-sociability. The dog itself wants to give out love.

“狗身上有某种不寻常的东西,”正在研究如何训练狗闻出炸药制作原料的温特说。“它们具有这种开放的超社会性。狗本身想要付出爱。”

“I think ‘smarts’ is a red herring,” he continued. “What we really need in our dogs is affection. My own dog is an idiot, but she’s a lovable idiot.”

“我认为‘聪明’是一个转移了焦点的说法,”他继续说道。“我们真正想要从自己的狗身上得到的是情感。我的狗狗是个小白痴,但她是个可爱的白痴。”

Dr. Hare, who is an associate professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke, said he believed that dogs, like humans, had multiple types of intelligence. With Dognition, owners test their dogs in areas of empathy, communication, cunning, memory and reasoning.

杜克大学演化人类学副教授黑尔说,他认为狗和人一样,有多种智力类型。狗主人可以在犬认知网站上对自家狗狗进行同理心、沟通、狡黠程度、记忆和推理方面的测试。

Dr. Santos of Yale agrees. “If you want to train an agility dog or a show dog, you value certain traits,” she said. “And if you have a stressful job and a family, you want a companion to cuddle. But they’re both ‘smart.’”

耶鲁大学的桑托斯同意这种观点。“如果想要训练一条机敏的或者会表演的狗,那你看重的是某些特质,”她说。“如果工作压力和家庭压力都很大,那你会想要找一个能抱在怀中的伴儿。但它们都很‘聪明’。”

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