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

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Bräuer,  Juliane
Linguistic and Cultural Evolution, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Amici, F., Waterman, J., Kellermann, C. M., Karimullah, K., & Bräuer, J. (2019). The ability to recognize dog emotions depends on the cultural milieu in which we grow up. Scientific Reports, 9(1): 16414, pp. 1-9. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-52938-4.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0005-1FE6-6
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.