Ellen Furlong

Associate Professor of Psychology

Psychology professor Ellen Furlong believes that her role as a teacher is to model responsible scientific thinking in the classroom and in the research she directs. 

“Encouraging scientific thinking improves student engagement and learning of the course material, but more importantly, it guides students to become better critical thinkers and acute consumers of scientific information generally,” she says. To that end, she works to create an inclusive and welcoming academic community so that her students feel comfortable enough to fully engage with the course material, their peers and their professor. 

And those efforts has paid dividends — Furlong has mentored several students in research projects that have resulted in presentations at national and international conferences and publications in well-regarded journals. “I enjoy watching students grow from consumers of information to producing knowledge on their own,” she says, adding that she sees her students as collaborators. “Students are involved in all aspects of research from design to data collection and analysis,” she notes, adding that, while sometimes students assist her on a pre-planned research project, “much more frequently, research questions arise collaboratively, from student interests and curiosity.”

Furlong — herself a Transy alumna — believes that a liberal arts education provides students with crucial critical thinking, evaluation and writing skills that will help them throughout the research and publication process. “The field of animal cognition is necessarily interdisciplinary,” she says. “We draw on the fields of biology, anthropology, psychology and others to inform our work. Students with a liberal arts background are often not daunted by this and are often quite eager to jump into such complex work.”

In addition to helping students hone their academic skills, Transylvania is also an ideal fit for students who are interested in animals due to its location and partnerships. Furlong is currently working on establishing a canine cognition lab at the university, and Transylvania is near the Primate Rescue Center, the Louisville Zoo and in the heart of horse country. 

Outside of the classroom, Furlong enjoys spending time with her dog, Olive, and Olive’s two emotional support kittens, Martini and 007. She is also a runner who balances long runs with baking, saying, “Life is all about balance, and if I’m going to run all morning, you bet I’m going to snack all afternoon.”

Academic History

  • Ph.D., Psychology, The Ohio State University, 2008
  • M.A., Psychology, The Ohio State University, 2005
  • B.A., Mathematics, Transylvania University, 2003

Professional Memberships

  • American Psychological Association
  • Animal Behavior Society
  • Comparative Cognition Society
  • The Society for Teaching in Psychology

Courses Taught at Transy

  • Biopsychology
  • Animal Cognition
  • What Does Fido Know?
  • Experimental Psychology of Learning
  • Evolutionary Psychology
  • General Psychology
  • Statistics

Areas of Research and Specialization

  • Animal Cognition
  • Dog Cognition and Behavior
  • Behavioral Economics

Awards and Honors

  • Most Influential Professor, Illinois Wesleyan University.
  • “Phylogeny of Fairness: Roles of Number Representation and Social Cognition.” National Institutes of Health. NRSA Postdoctoral Fellowship. 2010-13. Ellen Furlong and Laurie Santos.

Recent Publications

Chance, P. & Furlong, E.E. (2022). Learning & Behavior. Cengage. [8th Edition]

Furlong, E.E. (2020). Decoding Dogs: Inside the Mind of a Dog. Audible Originals & The Great Courses.

Silver, Z.A.*, Furlong, E.E., Johnston, A.M. & Santos, L.R. (2020). Training differences predict dogs’ (Canis lupus familiaris) preferences for prosocial others. Animal Cognition. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10071-020-01417-9

Jia, R., Furlong, E.E., Gao, S., Santos, L. & Levy, I. (2020). Learning about the Ellsberg Paradox reduces, but does not abolish, ambiguity aversion. PLOS One 15(3), e0228782.

Furlong, E.E., Silver, Z.A. & Furlong, J. (2018). Anthropocentrism as Cognitive Dissonance in Animal Research? A commentary on Zentall. Animal Sentience.