The title, "The inevitable bond", does this book a disservice. The subtitle is considerably more accurate. The book focuses on the ways in which the presence of humans can influence an animal's behavior and physiology. The implications of this for research with animals, and to a lesser extent for the perspective of the researcher who studies animals, are explored by the contributors. Researchers are encouraged to read this book. Both the enthusiasm of the contributors and the ideas for future work presented in the text provide a strong counterbalance to the recent negative predictions concerning the future of comparative psychology.
2. THE INEVITABLE BOND comprises twenty-four chapters, three of which (chapters by Davis and Balfour, Estep and Hetts, and Lehman) introduce or provide general discussions of the concept of bonding and the ways in which humans and their nonhuman subjects may interact. In the final and by far weakest chapter, philosopher Hugh Lehman presents "some philosophical reflections" and addresses the "ethical questions" that arise because animals bond with or, by his definition, develop affectionate relationships with their handlers. Subsuming the important issues raised in this book as simply love-hate relationships between animals and researchers does nothing to enhance the scientific credibility of the field or the work being carried out in studies involving animals.
3. The remaining chapters in the book are reports by investigators examining human-animal interactions across a wide range of perspectives, topics, and approaches to animal research. Most exciting, in my view, is the large and diverse set of species -- from the commonly studied rats and chimps to the more exotic iguanas, parrots and octopuses -- represented in the work presented here. If it does nothing else, this book shows that comparative psychology, as a field of research, is certainly alive and well in the 1990s.
4. There are several important issues that received the attention of the contributors and I will turn to a couple of these now. An implicit assumption in nearly all the chapters is that the animal under investigation is an individual member of a particular species. This concern with the animal whose responses are being investigated is, in fact, not as common in the animal psychology literature as might be expected. It has always puzzled me that psychologists using animal subjects to develop and test their theories and models more often than not disregard the animal's natural history in their experimental designs. An investigator must be aware of -- indeed must be knowledgeable about -- the species-typical behavior of his subject (cf. Moore & Stuttard, 1979).
5. From the accounts of the behavior of the large number of species examined here, differences within as well as between species are clearly evident. These differences may occur independent of, or as the result of, an animal's history. And, given the topic under consideration, considerable attention is devoted to the ways in which experience with humans can produce and exacerbate such differences. Several of the contributors report on the individual differences displayed by their subjects, for example: Boysen -- chimpanzees; Burghardt -- bears; Crowell-Davis -- horses; Dewsbury -- rodents; Fentress -- wolves; Ginsburg and Hiestand -- wolves; Kostarczyk -- dogs; Mather -- octopuses; Oden and Thompson -- chimpanzees; Schusterman, Gisiner, and Hanggi -- sea lions. Differences in, for example, temperament, perceptual capacity, and learning potential make it clear that we cannot approach our subjects simply as models with no concern for their evolutionary and experiential histories.
6. Although the fact that differences in animal behavior can result from early experience with humans has long been known, as Scott (Chapter 5) indicates in his references to the old nursery rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and to early ethological studies, it still seems necessary to repeat the lesson. To specify but one example from the text, David Lyon, in his excellent paper (Chapter 19) on the behavior of domestic goats, compares the reactions of subjects raised with their dam or by human caretakers. He finds substantial differences in both behavior (e.g. timidity) and physiology (plasma corticosteroids) between the two groups. These results serve to emphasis the general points made above: both innate and experiential differences play a role in determining the behavior of our subjects, and we must be aware that our presence can alter our results -- ignore your animals' past histories and individual differences at your own peril.
7. The related topics of emotional reactions (usually fear) and physiological responsiveness (e.g. hormone levels) receive the attention of a number of contributors. For example, fear and distress caused by procedures such as obtaining blood samples for hormonal assay may distort the accuracy of the measurements. How to control this is an open question -- Boccia et al. (Chapter 9) propose a method in which the researcher can avoid contact with his subject during such procedures, while Reinhardt (Chapter 10) has developed an approach in which the animal learns to actively co-operate with the handler.
8. Fear plays an important role in other situations as well and, as Caine (Chapter 22) points out, the researcher, even if merely an observer, cannot cavalierly assume that the animal's behavior is not affected in some way by the human presence. Animals may display antipredator behavior that goes unrecognized as such by the observer, or may inhibit actions that would normally be produced in a particular setting if the observer were not there.
9. John Fentress's excellent description (Chapter 4) of his relationship with Lupey, a young wolf cub, comes close to portraying an association that could be considered a bond. However, because Fentress is an excellent scientist, he was able to treat this relationship as more than a simple friendship. He was sensitive to the actions of the young wolf and was able to learn a great deal from his observations. And as he points out: "It is not bad science to recognize that we can (and often do) establish close affinities with our animals. What is bad is that we have not pursued in any systematic way what these affinities may be telling us about either ourselves or the animals" (p. 48). The ability to obtain scientific knowledge about animal behavior may be enhanced by a close relationship your subject. Pepperberg's exciting research on vocalization with Alex, her African Gray parrot (Chapter 11), and Sally Boysen's work with her chimps (Chapter 12) also exemplify this point.
10. In conclusion, this book provides information and discussion that will prove useful not only to researchers studying nonhuman animal subjects, but for those who work with animals in more natural and applied settings -- in the wild and in agriculture. There are warnings and cautions concerning procedures, concerning animal behavior, and concerning the researchers' (caretakers') own behavior. There are accounts of how stimulating and rewarding getting to know your subjects can be. THE INEVITABLE BOND is really about the consequences of the unavoidable interaction that we all enter when we begin to study animals. These consequences may be positive and rewarding (both for us and for our subjects) if we are willing to hear and see what our animals have to tell us, and to respond with intelligence to these messages.
11. Young researchers, especially, are encouraged to read this book. Both the enthusiasm of the contributors and the ideas for future work presented in the text provide a strong counterbalance to the recent negative predictions concerning the future of comparative psychology.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: Thanks to Jennifer Higa and Armando Michado for comments on previous versions of this review.
Davis, H & Balfour, A.D. (1992) (Eds.) The Inevitable Bond. Cambridge University Press.
Davis, H. (1993) Precis of: The Inevitable Bond. PSYCOLOQUY 4(12) human-animal-bond.1.
Moore, Bruce & Stuttard, Susan (1979). Felis domesticus: or, Tripping over the cat, Science, 205 (4410), 1031-1033.