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The ability to recognize dog emotions depends on the cultural milieu in which we grow up

By F. Amici, J. Waterman, C. M. Kellermann, K. Karimullah, J. Bräuer

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Abstract

Inter-specific emotion recognition is especially adaptive when species spend a long time in close association, like dogs and humans. Here, we comprehensively studied the human ability to recognize facial expressions associated with dog emotions (hereafter, emotions). Participants were presented with pictures of dogs, humans and chimpanzees, showing angry, fearful, happy, neutral and sad emotions, and had to assess which emotion was shown, and the context in which the picture had been taken. Participants were recruited among children and adults with different levels of general experience with dogs, resulting from different personal (i.e. dog ownership) and cultural experiences (i.e. growing up or being exposed to a cultural milieu in which dogs are highly valued and integrated in human lives). Our results showed that some dog emotions such as anger and happiness are recognized from early on, independently of experience. However, the ability to recognize dog emotions is mainly acquired through experience. In adults, the probability of recognizing dog emotions was higher for participants grown up in a cultural milieu with a positive attitude toward dogs, which may result in different passive exposure, interest or inclination toward this species.

Date 2019
Publication Title Scientific Reports
Volume 9
Issue 1
Pages 16414
ISBN/ISSN 2045-2322
DOI 10.1038/s41598-019-52938-4
Language English
Author Address Research Group "Primate Behavioural Ecology", Department of Human Behavior, Ecology and Culture, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany. amici@eva.mpg.de.Behavioral Ecology Research Group, Institute of Biology, Faculty of Life Science, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany. amici@eva.mpg.de.Leipzig Research Center for Early Child Development, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany. amici@eva.mpg.de.School of Psychology, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, UK.Leipzig Research Center for Early Child Development, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, Germany.Behavioral Ecology Research Group, Institute of Biology, Faculty of Life Science, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena, Germany.Friedrich Schiller University, Department of General Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience, Jena, Germany.
Additional Language English
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Tags
  1. Adults
  2. Animals
  3. Bonds
  4. Children
  5. Chimpanzees
  6. Dogs
  7. Emotions
  8. Face
  9. Females
  10. Humans
  11. Males
  12. open access
  13. preschools
  14. Psychiatry and psychology
  15. recognition
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  1. open access