A new study has shown that dogs, man’s best friend, can recognize human facial expressions and easily differentiate between varied emotions after receiving a through training.
Both human and animals are naturally predisposed as well as trained so that they could easily recognize emotional cues in their own kind.
On the other hand, the recognization of emotional expressions and facial cues in different species is more complicated. However, dogs seem to be a blessed animal as they can make such recognization after training.
The psychologists of animal at the University of Vienna in Austria conducted an experiment in which they trained dogs for responding to various emotions and facial expressions.
The researchers taught the participants how to respond to both angry as well as happy faces. During the experiment, some dogs were only exposed to the top halves of faces and the remaining was shown only the bottom halves.
All the participating dogs were then exposed to a new round of images.
The researchers explained that the stimuli were of four types, namely:
- new faces of different people exhibiting the same expressions;
- other half of previously used faces;
- corresponding halves of the new faces;
- only left half of previously used faces.
According to the researchers, the dogs were able to do the recognization of emotions after being trained for using all four types of stimuli.
Study author Corsin Muller, an expert for animal behavior at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, said, “We can rule out that the dogs simply discriminated between the pictures based on a simple salient cue, such as the visibility of teeth. Instead, our results suggest that the successful dogs realized that a smiling mouth means the same thing as smiling eyes.”
The study, however, fails to explain why the dogs hold this ability.
The findings of the study were published this week in the journal Current Biology.