Chickens and Emotional Projection

After being stimulated by something, the first step in an act of mental apprehension is the phenomenon of emotional projection. The animal projects its physical center of gravity into the form of what it’s attracted to and thus arrives at a feeling. This is the most conservative statement that can be made about the mental lives of animals because the number one evolutionary problem for any organism is the movement of its body through time and space, (not outcompeting other animals or adapting to environmental pressures) and therefore the mind that moves the body through time and space would inarguably have evolved upon the solution of this fundamental problem. Since movement from point A to point B requires the projection of the body’s center-of-gravity forward to the next footfall, and ultimately through the entire sequence of movements that will deliver the body to point B, this physical projection phenomenon evolved to become the basis of an emotional projection phenomenon. Emotional projection is a modeling program just as physical projection is a modeling program. In other words, before an animal moves from point A to point B it can already feel whether the path to point B, and point B itself can absorb its physical momentum. This is why animals don’t run into solid things. Likewise, the projection of the emotional center-of-gravity answers the question: “What will I feel when I arrive at the object of attraction,” in other words, “Can the stimulus absorb my emotional momentum?” This is why animals don’t run into predators.

At the chalkboard I outline the basics and how it extends to all animal behavior, for example ravens calling when they find a carcass, and then in the chicken yard we can see how a group mind evolves around the phenomenon of emotional projection. The roosters become emotionally paralyzed since their mind is configured around the flock as a whole after having projected into each hen and is thus compelled to track their movements before he can project his own body forward. The roosters become paralyzed in regards to their own self-interests relative to the hens, a paralysis the hens are quick to exploit but tellingly as we can see, not to another rooster because the latter does not absorb the emotional momentum of its fellow rooster, whereas a hen does. Emotional projection is the basis of complex social behavior, not the mathematics of reciprocity which is the current Neo-Darwinian logic for cooperative behavior. Not surprisingly the math adds up, but this merely describes the mathematical implications of social behavior, there is not a math module running algorithms in the minds of these chickens. There is the phenomenon of emotional projection, the projection of a feeling, and which evolved from the phenomenon of physical projection, the projection of a physical force.






<<<For some reason the videos seem to be morphing into one video, so I’ve repeated the chicken pen video below>>>>




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Published May 10, 2014 by Kevin Behan
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7 responses to “Chickens and Emotional Projection”

  1. b... says:

    What helped me picture the concept of projecting p-cog outside of one’s body:

    – the example of how the upright banana’s center of gravity lies outside the banana itself (cog can be external)
    – Henrik Ehrrson’s experiments with ‘out of body’ experiences – sensing a rubber arm as your own (
    – seeing kenneled dogs try to run (resulting in jumping into the fence of the kennel) when other dogs being exercised in the yard pass by them

  2. b... says:

    Another related study that seems to suggest that feeling ‘in your body’ (as evidenced by ability to sense heartbeat) makes you less prone to projecting (or maybe it’s over-projecting?) your cog (in this case, into an inanimate rubber arm, if this can be understood as projecting):

  3. b... says:

    “Emotional projection is the basis of complex social behavior, not the mathematics of reciprocity which is the current Neo-Darwinian logic for cooperative behavior”

    This might explain what’s going on in the study mentioned here, where toddlers (who presumably are not psychologically formed enough yet to predict that altruistic behavior will benefit them in the future) choose cooperative behavior over greed. And how introducing an extrinsic reward disrupts this flow:

    “…a series of experiments at the Max Planck Institute in Germany, when a group of 15-month-olds were placed in a room where an adult pretended to need help. “There is a proven urge to help. The toddlers love helping, they get an intrinsic reward just from the act, until they start to reward them for that behaviour with a toy. The group of toddlers rewarded ‘extrinsically’ – that is, with a toy – quickly lost interest in helping. The unrewarded children – who don’t know the other group are getting rewards – keep on helping, content with no ulterior reason other than the act of helping.”

  4. Sundog Fitz says:

    One thing that reminds me of Bejan and Constructal Law is when you mentioned that the number one evolutionary problem is movement, not reproduction. This is because movement IS life where stasis is death.

  5. Sundog Fitz says:

    My brief education on Quorum Sensing (in wikipedia) tells me that the quorum is more about quantity thresholds than quality thresholds. Meaning it does not matter the proportion of males and females, young or old, black or white simply that an ideal quantity of “individuals” has arrived on the scene and found it be favorable. But what has me confused by your take on this is that if all of the flock, roosters and hens, have a group mind composed of variations on the predator prey dynamic why is it called reaching a Quorum of quantity? It would seem to me that the quorum is about filling the quality gaps. And then if the Rooster is paralyzed by the diffuse nature of his COG projected into a quantity of hens (quality) then I can see how Quorum sensing is not really about cooperation or reciprocity so that the individual can thrive it is about completing the group mind so that the whole SYSTEM persists. The Rooster does not eat as much because he does not need as much as egg laying hens. But what does that say about the Rooster’s behavior being hindered by the quorum instead of helped? AAACK, I have just talked myself in circles!

  6. Kevin Behan says:

    In a way the chickens represent a reverse kind of quorum, or rather the flip side of a quorum in that there is a subtraction effect, what I’m referring to as fragmentation, in that the Rooster is paralyzed until the hens assemble, but they exploit this gap by rushing in to take the food from him. In ravens the function is additive so that they assemble and achieve a quorum threshold and then are able to go toward the carcass. It’s the same phenomenon of emotional projection, the fragmentation of the self into the many, but adapted to different ecosystems. Emotional projection is the basis of all animal behavior since the movement of the body is the number one evolutionary problem universal to all animals, and projecting the physical center of gravity forward is how the mind knows how to move the body. This I believe this simple autonomic process has evolved into emotional projection.

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In Your Dog Is Your Mirror, dog trainer Kevin Behan proposes a radical new model for understanding canine behavior: a dog’s behavior and emotion, indeed its very cognition, are driven by our emotion. The dog doesn’t respond to what the owner thinks, says, or does; it responds to what the owner feels. And in this way, dogs can actually put people back in touch with their own emotions. Behan demonstrates that dogs and humans are connected more profoundly than has ever been imagined — by heart — and that this approach to dog cognition can help us understand many of dogs’ most inscrutable behaviors. This groundbreaking, provocative book opens the door to a whole new understanding between species, and perhaps a whole new understanding of ourselves.
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