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Dogs Sympathize with our Tears


Dogs Sympathize with our Tears

(epharmanews)- Research from Goldsmiths, University of London suggests domestic dogs express empathic behaviour when confronted with humans in distress.

Doctors Deborah Custance and Jennifer Mayer, both from the Department of Psychology, developed an innovative procedure to examine if domestic dogs could identify and respond to emotional states in humans. They studied 19 dogs, various ages and breeds, by exposing them to 4 separate 20-seconds situations with their owners or with a stranger where humans, cried, hummed or just talked normally.

The doctors noted that significantly more dogs displayed sympathy by looking at and approaching and touching the crying as opposed to the humming, while neither of the dogs seemed to care when there was a normal, casual conversation.

"The humming was designed to be a relatively novel behaviour, which might be likely to pique the dogs' curiosity. The fact that the dogs differentiated between crying and humming indicates that their response to crying was not purely driven by curiosity," explained Dr. Custance. "Rather, the crying carried greater emotional meaning for the dogs and provoked a stronger overall response than either humming or talking."

Dogs’ sympathetic reaction was the same whether towards the owner or unfamiliar people they have never met before: “"If the dogs' approaches during the crying condition were motivated by self-oriented comfort-seeking, they would be more likely to approach their usual source of comfort, their owner, rather than the stranger," said Jennifer. “No such preference was found. The dogs approached whoever was crying regardless of their identity. Thus they were responding to the person's emotion, not their own needs, which is suggestive of empathic-like comfort-offering behaviour.”

Custance and Mayer hope that this research will lead to more studies on dogs’ emotional state and how they handle different situations and how they recognize human emotions.


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Prepared by: Laila Nour


Source :

ePharmaNews






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