Dolphin Problem Solving

Stan A. Kuczaj II and Rachel T. Walker

in The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Cognition

Second edition

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780195392661
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Dolphin Problem Solving

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  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience



This chapter explores the problem-solving capabilities of bottlenose dolphins. It first considers the nature of problem solving, followed by two cases (dolphin “syntax” and dolphin “pointing”) in which dolphins derived strategies in response to problems posed to them by humans. Although neither of these studies was designed to directly study problem solving, the dolphins’ solutions to the problems they encountered revealed the types of strategies that they spontaneously employed. The chapter next summarizes a series of studies designed to assess the extent to which dolphins can plan their behavior when confronted with novel problems far removed from those they might encounter in their everyday experience. Finally, the chapter presents recent findings on dolphin play and considers the role of play in the emergence of problem-solving skills.

Keywords: dolphins; problem solving; play; dolphin syntax; dolphin pointing

Article.  14483 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience

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