Jenny Essler

Project at the WSC Inequity aversion in dogs and wolves
With us since May 2013
Favourite animal at the WSC Geronimo, Nanuk, Meru, Gombo
Favourite howling Aragorn

I’m a 25 year old PhD candidate working at the WSC, originally from the United States.

I received my undergraduate BA degree in Psychology at Georgia State University. Here, I found my love for animals in working with capuchin monkeys at the Language Research Center with Dr. Sarah Brosnan. I worked on projects ranging from inequity aversion, cooperation, and comparative cognition. Finally, I did my undergraduate thesis comparing capuchin monkeys to cleaner wrasse in a comparative cognition task. For my MS in Animal Behavior, I worked at Bucknell University under the direction of Dr. Peter Judge. Here, I completed projects on self-control and social cuing. My thesis project was on conspecific social cuing in a two-choice task.

At the Wolf Science Center, I am the PhD student of Dr. Friederike Range. My project theme is inequity aversion. Inequity aversion is basically recognizing and being averse to receiving inequalities, typically compared to a conspecific. I study this phenomenon in the wolves and the dogs, specifically looking at the differences between them and determining what, if any, effect domestication has had on this trait. Though dogs have been shown to be inequity averse, wolves have not (yet!). Within my project, I test inequity aversion in the play context as well as in experimental settings.