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Dogs recognize dog and human emotions

By N. Albuquerque, Kun Guo, A. Wilkinson, C. Savalli, E. Otta, D. Mills

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The perception of emotional expressions allows animals to evaluate the social intentions and motivations of each other. This usually takes place within species; however, in the case of domestic dogs, it might be advantageous to recognize the emotions of humans as well as other dogs. In this sense, the combination of visual and auditory cues to categorize others' emotions facilitates the information processing and indicates high-level cognitive representations. Using a cross-modal preferential looking paradigm, we presented dogs with either human or dog faces with different emotional valences (happy/playful versus angry/aggressive) paired with a single vocalization from the same individual with either a positive or negative valence or Brownian noise. Dogs looked significantly longer at the face whose expression was congruent to the valence of vocalization, for both conspecifics and heterospecifics, an ability previously known only in humans. These results demonstrate that dogs can extract and integrate bimodal sensory emotional information, and discriminate between positive and negative emotions from both humans and dogs.

Publication Title Biology Letters
Volume 12
Issue 1
Pages 20150883
ISBN/ISSN 1744-9561
DOI 10.1098/rsbl.2015.0883
Language English
Author Address School of Life Sciences, University of Lincoln, Lincoln LN6 7DL,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Aggressive behavior
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Animal communication
  4. Animals
  5. Behavioral research
  6. Canidae
  7. Canine
  8. Carnivores
  9. Dogs
  10. Emotions
  11. Face
  12. Humans
  13. Mammals
  14. Men
  15. Pets and companion animals
  16. Primates
  17. Relationships
  18. vertebrates
  19. Zoology