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March 2016 Vol. 53 No. 7

Elsevier BV


The following review appeared in the March 2016 issue of CHOICE:

Zoology
53-3072
QL785
MARC
Animal creativity and innovation, ed. by Allison B. Kaufman and James C. Kaufman. Elsevier/Academic Press, 2015. 516p bibl index ISBN 9780128006481, $69.95.

This book is an extremely rich, powerful collection of essays exploring the what, who, when, where, how, and why of innovativeness and creativity in nonhuman animals.  With contributions by top experts, the main strength of this edited volume is its transdisciplinary approach.  It is theory driven, methodology oriented, and data based.  The contributors do an excellent job of reviewing the environmental determinants (e.g., opportunity, necessity), sociodemographic drivers (e.g., group size, tolerance), psychological underpinnings (e.g., intentionality, emotion), neuroanatomical basis, and neurophysiological correlates, including the various constraints, on behavioral innovation, with an emphasis on cost-benefit ratios.  The argument that innovation propensity is more an exaptation than an adaptation is convincing.  Examples of innovative capacities encompass different animal taxa (e.g., insects, cetaceans, monkeys, and great apes) and cover both functional creativity (e.g., problem solving, tool invention, vocal communication) and seemingly purposeless creativity (e.g., so-called artistic skills).  Even though the focus is animal innovation, each chapter includes a commentary section written by a researcher on human creativity, providing a well-balanced approach to the subject.  One criticism: recent findings on the links between innovativeness and personality traits in animals (e.g., openness to new experience) could have been better acknowledged.

--J-B. Leca, University of Lethbridge

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through professionals/practitioners.