Research on human-dog emotional understanding

Researchers at the School of Life Sciences and Psychology, University of Lincoln, recruited participants over 2017, to take part in a study which focussed on relationships between humans and dogs, and how emotion is perceived between the two species.

The School of Life Sciences researchers involved were Cátia C. Caeiro (Postgraduate researcher) and Prof. Daniel Mills.

Participants were invited to watch a series of short videos which displayed the faces of both people and dogs, whilst a camera recorded their eye movements. After watching each video, the participants were then asked to try and recognise the emotions displayed on each face, along with a final task of completing a short survey about themselves and their experience of dogs.

It is hoped that the findings will help identify how humans and dogs read each other’s emotions, in what continues to be a very successful and long-lasting interspecific relationship.

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Attitudes towards animals questionnaire

Are cats moral or amoral? Can a toad be sad? People appear to have ready-made opinions about the answers to such questions. Dr Emile van der Zee and Prof Todd Hogue from the School of Psychology at the University of Lincoln have developed a questionnaire that measures people’s attitudes towards animals; whether animals can think, have emotions, or feel pain.

Our attitudes towards animals are an important predictor for our thinking about animal welfare (do pigs need to roam freely when farmed?), how we interact with them (why do we pet cats but rarely snakes), and what effects animals have on us (e.g., petting a dog slows your heart rate, and increases your levels of oxytocin making you feel good).

There is an opportunity for you to participate in this research. The attitudes-towards-animals questionnaire is available on-line. Apart from asking your opinion about the characteristics of certain animals, the research is aimed at finding out how these opinions arise. Do we have our opinions because of our age, our gender, our religion, etc.? Please click on the following link http://bit.ly/animal-feelings if you are interested in participating – whether you like animals or do not like them, your opinion is important to us.

University academics discuss research on radio show

Psychologists and animal behaviour specialists from the University of Lincoln appeared on The Academic Minute radio programme.

Dr Emile van der Zee from the School of Psychology with Helen Zulch and Professor Daniel Mills from the School of Life Sciences, are soon to feature on The Academic Minute.

The show features professors from top institutions around the country, delving into topics from the serious to the light-hearted, keeping listeners abreast of what’s new and exciting.

The researchers’ recent study which provided the first empirical evidence that the way in which dogs relate words to objects is fundamentally different to humans has seen huge media interest since the findings were released in November 2012.

Through a series of unique behavioural experiments the researchers showed that the mental dictionary of domestic dogs is constructed in a substantially different manner to our own.

The findings, published in the peer-reviewed online journal PLOS ONE, may help to advance understanding of the foundations of language in humans and the critical differences with other species.

To listen to the broadcast go to www.academicminute.org or click here