The fact that we can read other humans’ emotional cues is old news, but behavioral scientists weren’t sure whether this empathy extended to other animals– until now. Science has confirmed that humans are, in fact, pretty good at reading dog’s emotions based on facial expression. Sometimes.
In the study, led by Dr. Tina Bloom of Walden University, a 5-year-old police dog named Mal was shown stimuli to elicit a variety of emotions (for instance, praise to make him happy, or nail clippers to instill fear, awww). Mal’s emotional responses were then photographed, and these photos were shown to 50 volunteers who were told to analyze each photo. Overall, 88% of volunteers identified happiness, while 45% could recognize fear, and only 13% “disgust.” Hmmm… so we’re good at reading dog’s emotional cues, but only when they tell us what we want to see?
Oddly enough, non-dog owners were actually better at reading the pups’ emotions.
Look, sorry. Don’t shoot the messenger. JUST WOOK AT DOSE PUPPY FACES!