The conclusions drawn from mirror self-recognition studies, in which nonhuman animals are tested for whether they detect a mark on their bodies which can be observed only in the mirror, are based on several presuppositions. These include (1) that performance on the test is an indication of species wide rather than individual abilities, and (2) that all the animals which pass the test are demonstrating the presence of the same psychological ability. However, further details about the results of the test indicate that these presuppositions are false. Animals take the test as individuals, not as stand-ins for species, and members of different species rely on different cognitive mechanisms to pass the test. For nonhuman animals, passing the test seems to be a consequence of enculturation and practice.
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