According to new studies, people can read the emotional expression in dog faces more accurately than chimpanzees
- A new study tested people's ability to accurately interpret facial expressions
- Researchers used photos of dogs, chimpanzees, and other people
- They showed the photos to people from dog-friendly countries
- People from countries that were less friendly to dogs also got to see the images
- It was easiest for people from dog friend cultures to identify dog expressions
Dogs have lived next to people for at least 40,000 years, but proximity does not automatically lead to understanding.
According to a new study from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, the key to understanding dogs largely depends on where you come from.
The researchers, led by Federica Amici, a behavioral ecologist, tested 89 adults and 77 children with different cultural backgrounds to test their ability to read the facial expression of dogs.
New research from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology shows that adults from dog-friendly cultures can identify facial expressions in dogs with a higher degree of accuracy than those from cultures that are less friendly to dogs
More specifically, test subjects were taken from Europe, where dogs are considered close-knit family companions living next door to people indoors, and countries with a Muslim majority where dogs live more often outside and are not necessarily considered surrogate family members.
Researchers showed the subjects photos of dogs, chimpanzees, and humans and asked them to distinguish expressions of anger, happiness, sadness, fear, and neutral expressions.
The researchers discovered that although all subjects in general were able to distinguish happiness and anger in dogs, people from more dog-friendly Europe could identify sadness, fear and neutrality in facial expressions of dogs with greater accuracy than people from Muslim countries.
It is important that children perform roughly the same regardless of cultural background, and apart from happiness and anger, they were unable to accurately identify the emotions of dogs on the basis of facial expressions.
Although all subjects were able to identify anger and happiness in dogs with approximately the same accuracy, fear, sadness and neutral expressions were much harder to identify for people from cultures that were considered less friendly to dogs
"These results are remarkable because they suggest that it is not necessarily direct experience with dogs that affects people's ability to recognize their emotions, but rather the cultural environment in which people develop," Amici said in a statement announcing the findings.
An interesting wrinkle is that children assessed the emotional expressions of dogs more accurately than chimpanzees, despite the fact that chimpanzees and humans are each other's closest genetic relatives.
Although the role of facial expressions in human communication is well documented, it is less clear what facial expressions mean for dogs.
Indeed, dogs communicate in various important ways without facial expression, including body position, tail position, ear position and odor.
Children found it easier to identify facial expressions in dogs than in chimpanzees, despite the close genetic relationship between humans and chimpanzees
An experiment from the University of Portsmouth 2017 showed that dogs produced considerably more facial expressions when they knew they were being viewed by people.
In addition, they discovered that dogs' facial expressions remained unchanged when they looked at exciting photos of food, but they raised their eyebrows and widened their eyes when they looked at people.
These findings suggest that facial expressions of dogs can be a way to easily grab a human's attention.
HOW DOGS DOMESTICATE DOGS?
A genetic analysis of & # 39; the world's oldest known dog remains showed that in some cases dogs were domesticated by people living in Eurasia about 20,000 to 40,000 years ago.
Dr. Krishna Veeramah, an assistant professor of evolution at Stony Brook University, said to MailOnline: & # 39; the process of domesticating dogs would have been a very complex process involving a number of generations where characteristic dog characteristics gradually evolved.
& # 39; The current hypothesis is that the domestication of dogs is probably passive, with a population of wolves somewhere in the world living on the edge of hunter-gathering camps that feed on man-made waste.
& # 39; Those wolves that were tamer and less aggressive would have been more successful in this, and although people initially did not have any benefit from this process, over time they would have some sort of symbiotic [mutually beneficial] relationship with it have developed animals, eventually evolving towards the dogs that we see today. & # 39;
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