Human attention affects facial expressions in domestic dogs

Juliane Kaminski, Jennifer Hynds, Paul Morris, Bridget Waller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

179 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Most mammalian species produce facial expressions. Historically, animal facial expressions have been considered inflexible and involuntary displays of emotional states rather than active attempts to communicate with others. In the current study, we aimed to test whether domestic dog facial expressions are subject to audience effects and/ or changes in response to an arousing stimulus (e.g. food) alone. We presented dogs with an experimental situation in which a human demonstrator was either attending to them or turned away, and varied whether she presented food or not. Dogs produced significantly more facial movements when the human was attentive than when she was not. The food, however, as a non-social but arousing stimulus, did not affect the dogs’ behaviour. The current study is therefore evidence that dogs are sensitive to the human’s attentional state when producing facial expressions, suggesting that facial expressions are not just inflexible and involuntary displays of emotional states, but rather potentially active attempts to communicate with others.
Original languageEnglish
Article number12914
JournalScientific Reports
Volume7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 Oct 2017

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Human attention affects facial expressions in domestic dogs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this