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Mirror self-recognition

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-W050-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 2017
Retrieved June 13, 2024, from

Article Summary

Mirror self-recognition (MSR) refers to the empirical investigation of self-awareness, also known as the ‘mirror and mark test’ introduced by psychologist Gordon G. Gallup (1970). The ability to direct behaviour to previously unseen parts of the body such as the inside of the mouth or to groom the eye by the aid of mirrors has been interpreted as the recognition of the self and evidence of a self-concept. Unknowingly, a similar approach was developed independently with children (Amsterdam 1972).

The successful passing of the mirror and mark test has been widely used as a benchmark for distinguishing conscious and non-conscious species within fields with a general interest in evolutionary perspectives on consciousness and cognition such as comparative psychology and cognitive ethology, although controversies about the methodology and theoretical framework persist. These disputes question our intuitions about consciousness and accentuate the epistemic difficulty of obtaining evidence on mental states in others.

Citing this article:
Schilhab, Theresa. Mirror self-recognition, 2017, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-W050-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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