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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
April 2022
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Book description

What really differentiates us from our relatives in the animal world? And what can they teach us about ourselves? Taking these questions as his starting point, Norbert Sachser presents fascinating insights into the inner lives of animals, revealing what we now know about their thoughts, feelings and behaviour. By turns surprising, humourous and thought-provoking, Much Like Us invites us on a journey around the animal kingdom, explaining along the way how dogs demonstrate empathy, why chimpanzees wage war and how crows and ravens craft tools to catch food. Sachser brings the science to life with examples and anecdotes drawn from his own research, illuminating the vast strides in understanding that have been made over the last 30 years. He ultimately invites us to challenge our own preconceptions – the closer we look, the more we see the humanity in our fellow creatures.


Winner, 2022 Choice Outstanding Academic Titles


‘A masterful synthesis of science and storytelling by one of the world’s leading experts in animal behaviour. In Much Like Us, Sachser’s remarkable ability to communicate scientifically complex concepts with clarity and humour is on full display. The result: a remarkable book providing a new understanding of the origins and nature of ‘animal’ (non-human and human) behaviour. His remarkable new book contains many of the insights his scientific colleagues have admired for decades. Yet, his engaging and elegant writing make this book deeply accessible for a wide range of audiences: from the academic scholars and their students to anyone interested in why and how we human animals came to behave as we do. A deeply insightful and powerful book, which transforms our understanding of not only behaviour, but of our place as humans within the tree of life.’

B. Natterson-Horowitz - Harvard Medical School, USA

‘A must-read for anyone interested in the behaviour, cognition, and emotions of animals and the evolutionary roots of human behaviour. Sachser offers an authoritative and accessible account of the behavioural and physiological mechanisms and processes that humans share with other mammals, which is interspersed with numerous insightful anecdotes. Definitely an informative and entertaining read for professional and lay readers alike.’

Peter Kappeler - University of Göttingen and The Deutsches Primatenzentrum, Germany

‘This is a great, profound, and instructive book by an important representative of behavioural science on the latest findings in his field, describing individual differences, personality, emotions, hormonal and genetic control, and finally some impressive cognitive capacities in non-human animals, which bring them much closer to us humans than most people would have thought. The focus is on the value of a well-functioning social system and the underlying mechanisms that he himself has pioneered to uncover. A recommended read.’

Ludwig Huber - University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Austria

‘Norbert Sachser illustrates how recent scientific advances in the field of behavioural biology have revolutionised our view on non-human animals and ultimately lead to a paradigm shift in human–animal interactions. Much Like Us gives an in-depth overview of the up-to-date scientific knowledge of how animals think, feel, and behave. Sachser most impressively shows how behaviour in both humans and non-human animals is shaped by complex interactions between genetics and environments and how animal behaviour does not develop in a fixed matter but is affected by environmental influences, socialisation, and learning, and how animals, like humans, display individual personalities. Sachser’s book shows how scientific knowledge about the behaviour of animals has helped humans and animals to move much closer together and to understand that there is much more of us in them than we have thought.’

Claudia Wascher - Anglia Ruskin University, UK

‘This book addresses questions about the lives of other animals and their similarity to us humans that are likely to have been asked by many people at one point or another. By showing how scientific approaches keep changing our understanding of the complex lives of animals, Norbert Sachser invites us to rethink our own lives and our place in the natural world.’

Dieter Lukas - Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Germany

‘[Sachser's] book made me think and rethink how human's views of other animals are far too often human-centric, to the detriment of how we perceive and treat other animals because they supposedly don't really know what's happening or don't suffer like we do … I hope Much Like Us finds its way into a wide array of courses at the undergraduate and graduate level including animal behavior and comparative psychology. It's also readable by the general public who need to know what we're actually learning through rigorous research about the thoughts, feelings, and emotions of other animals. I'm sure many people will be surprised by what we really know.’

Marc Bekoff Source: Psychology Today

'Sacher’s theme is to show not just how there has been a revolution in our scientific study of animal behaviour, but also to give a summary of the major changes in our understanding. His relatively short book takes a wide look at the changes and how they occurred … it is a remarkable tour d’horizon, accessible to the common reader … If I had had this book some years ago when I was an applied animal behaviour student, it would have put the different lectures I attended into one coherent whole. As Sachser declares: ‘the more we investigate, and the closer we look, the more we see the humanity in our fellow creatures.’ This closeness between human and beast has important implications for animal welfare.'

Celia Haddon Source: Animal Welfare

‘… illuminating, thoughtful, and thought-provoking … Highly recommended.’

J. Burger Source: Choice

‘… Much Like Us provides a fascinating array of clear examples of behaviors we also see reflected in humans inviting us to reconsider many aspects of our relationship with other species. This book would also be a terrific addition to any introductory animal behavior course.'

Jennifer Verdolin Source: Quarterly Review of Biology

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