The mirror test, conceived by evolutionary psychologist Gordon Gallup, has been used for almost fifty years to test animals for self-awareness. The animal to be tested is allowed to become familiar with its image in a mirror. Then a mark is placed on the animal, in a place that the animal can only see in the reflection. If the animal touches or examines the mark on its body, it is deemed to be “self-aware”. Up to now, besides humans the only animals to pass the test have been big-brained mammals, such as chimpanzees. Recently, a tiny fish called the cleaner wrasse has passed the test. Scientists are unsure whether this means that the fish is self-aware, or that the test is not in fact a valid way to test for self-awareness.
- The reaction of a little blue-and-black fish to the mirror test has scientists questioning what their perceptions are about the mental abilities of animals.
- The mirror test is used as a test of self awareness in animals. It helps scientists understands the level of perceptions of self on these animals.
- An animal in the mirror test is allowed to see a mirror a second time after a mark is placed on it. Some animals perceive the mark.
“Some animals’ mental skills may be more impressive than we imagined, while the mirror test may say less than we thought.”