According to researchers, dogs can understand the human emotions. This may come as no surprise to the dog owners, who already saw that their dog was acting happier and more excited when their owner was happy and was trying to comfort its owner by staying close to him and being silent when the opposite emotion was shown. Some people and researchers said that the dogs imitate the emotions of their owner, but a new study comes to say that they act like that because they feel the emotion of their owner, rather than copy it.
Researchers from the University of Sao Paolo in Brazil and from the University of Lincoln in Britain have demonstrated that dogs can read the human emotions. Apparently, dogs can do that by differentiating between facial expressions and voice tones. Not only they can identify human emotions, but they can do the same for other dogs as well. The British and Brazilian researchers used a method that resembles the one used for the social understanding of babies.
For the study, 17 adult dogs were used. They were put in front of two screens that changed between images that portrayed different human emotions like happiness, anger and sadness. Along with the pictures, a sound was made that portrayed perfectly one of those two emotions, an opposite noise or a neutral one. They had to process images and sounds of other dogs and of humans as well. In order to ensure that the dogs weren’t responding to something familiar, the voices of the humans were in a language the dog wasn’t familiar with and that was Brazilian Portuguese. The faces in the images belonged to strangers.
When the dogs heard the vocal portray of an emotion, 67% of them looked at the image that portrayed correctly the emotion. It didn’t matter whether the subject was another dog or a human or what kind of emotion it portrayed. The dogs succeeded to identify most of the emotions. When the sounds matched the images, the dogs looked longer at the images of dogs than they did at images of humans.
This incredible ability to read emotions can be a powerful tool for any animal. As dogs can sense the emotions of humans, they can act accordingly and thus they are more likely to be loved and taken under protection. The ability the dogs have to understand even unfamiliar people and to use that information properly has been known to be possessed only by humans. Researchers say that dogs can understand the human emotions because humans and dogs have always been close and the incredible trait could have been developed over the course of time.
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