According to a new study, dogs understand emotions of humans and other dogs in a way which have not been observed before.
If you have a dog you might already know that they always know when you’re said as they probably try to make you feel better but also when you’re happy as they probably become more playful so they don’t just understand your emotions but they are also responding to them.
However, recently researchers discovered that dogs are not only able to learn how to respond to human emotions but they can genuinely recognize positive and negative expressions and sounds in a variety of persons and dogs.
According to the study published last week in Biology Letters journal, dogs recognize emotions in humans and other dogs by combining acoustic and visual information.
The study has been conducted by an international team of researchers from the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil and the University of Lincoln in the United Kingdom. The showed images of dog and humans to 17 dogs while they were also playing audio of barking and voices.
Some of the voices and images presented were positive, such as happy laughter and playful barking while others were negative, such as angry voices and aggressive barks. However, the positive images were not always matching happy voices and vice-versa, making combinations of positive-negative sight-sound.
Researchers observed that when the images were matching the sounds, so when both of them were positive or both of them were negative, dogs were paying more attention, for a longer period of time.
It might not sound like a big discovery but it helped researchers determine that dogs are actually forming mental representations of emotional states, whether positive or negative. This means that when they become cuddly after feeling us being sad or playful when we’re happy is not just a result of learned behavior.
Daniel Mills, one of the co-authors of the study says that there is an important and huge difference between what scientists call “associative behavior” – learning to respond appropriately to different factors such as an angry tone, and recognize a wide range of different signals which work together to indicate emotions.
Mills also claims that their research is the first to show that dogs are actually recognizing emotions in humans and in other dogs. Previous research has showed that dogs are able to recognize and attach meaning to human facial expressions but this new study indicates that their comprehension is more complex.
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