Alexander Taylor

Alexander Taylor

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Social & Behavioural Sciences

I obtained my bachelor’s degree at Oxford University, and my PhD at the University of Auckland. I then worked as a Junior Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge, before taking up a lectureship at the University of Auckland, where I was awarded by the Royal Society of New Zealand both a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship (2014-19), and the Prime Minister’s Emerging Scientist prize (2015). In 2022 I was awarded an ERC Consolidator Grant (2023-2028) for my project ‘UNIPROB’.

Research interests

My research is focused on comparing and understanding the similarities and differences between human and animal minds. At the heart of my research program is an experimental framework I term the signature testing approach (Taylor et al. 2022). This uses the information processing errors, biases and other patterns agent exhibits to make inference about the content of different minds. This approach generates powerful intelligence tests that strongly constrain the possible cognition an agent is using and allows for the comparison of both biological intelligences. I also have a keen interest in understanding the role information processing errors and biases play in human decision-making. My lab currently works with a wide range of study species, including the kea parrot, rats, and adult humans.

Selected publications

- Nelson XJ, Taylor AH, Cartmill EA, et al. 2023, 'Joyful by nature: approaches to investigate the evolution and function of joy in non-human animals'. Biol Rev. 98, 5, 1548-1563.

- Miller R, Davies JR, Schiestl M, Garcia-Pelegrin E, Gray RD, Taylor AH & Clayton NS 2023, 'Social influences on delayed gratification in New Caledonian crows and Eurasian jays', Plos one, 18, 12, e0289197.

- Hassall RS, Neilands P, Bastos APM & Taylor AH 2023, 'Dogs assess human competence from observation alone and use it to predict future behaviour', Learning And Motivation, 83, 101911.

Selected research activities

Member of LIFT Cost Action group (CA21124) on Animal Welfare