Dogs may be man’s best friend and his trusty companion, but when it comes to empathy we seem to know so little about our bow-wow bud. According to recent research, dogs have a knack for showing empathy. Moreover, it would seem that our buddies are able to decipher complex visual and auditory cues.
- The project has been conducted by the Sao Paola and the Lincoln Universities;
- Researchers have proven that dogs can ‘read’ our emotions;
- Scientists applied a method used to study pre-verbal skills in babies;
- The technique involved exposing canines to sounds and pictures of humans and dogs;
- They used unfamiliar language to increase the accuracy of the results;
- Prior to the study, the dogs received no specialized training.
Recent research into canine behavior has proven that dogs are capable of showing empathy towards their human masters and towards another member of their species by integrated highly complex visual and auditory cues.
Dogs have a knack for showing empathy even if they see an unfamiliar face or hear a stranger’s voice. In their experiment, the joint team of scientists has been able to demonstrate that dogs can take advantage of their heightened senses in order to detect any change in our mood or facial expressions.
For this experiment, approximately 17 healthy dogs were chosen. Their job was just to take a look at some pictures and bark something in their language. In fact, the experiment is more complex than that.
To see if indeed dogs are capable of reading facial expressions and to associate a certain face to a voice cue, the team of scientists decided to expose the dogs to multiple facial expressions, accompanied by a recorded voice.
As we stated, neither the faces nor the voice tones were familiar to the dogs. Thus, the experiment would prove to be more accurate.
So, how did the experiment continue? When faced with a certain picture of a facial expression, which was accompanied by an appropriate voice cue, the dog would pause and linger in front of the picture.
The team of scientists has theorized that the dogs do so in order to integrate the both cues into a larger emotional concept. They also tried to use variations. For instance, when a dog was watching the picture depicting a facial expression, the scientists would play a static noise instead of the appropriate voice cue.
They discovered that when the canine heard the static audio cue, he was not capable of associating the voice with the face, thus moving forward to the next picture.
The experiment has demonstrated that dogs have a knack for empathy, being capable of recognizing the signs of different moods in 67 percent of the cases.
In conclusion, dogs, as domesticated animals can use their highly-developed senses in order to integrate into any man-dominated environment.