But does she really? Can dogs understand deception?
Mark Petter, a Dalhousie *University PhD student in clinical psychology, wanted to find out whether dogs could recognize if humans had the intention of deceiving them. Research he conducted as an undergraduate student at the University of Western Ontario has just been published in the October issue of Behavioural Processes, a journal dedicated to high-quality original research on animal behaviour.
The results showed that dogs didn’t differentiate between the human “cooperators” or “deceivers” to a remarkable degree.
“We thought they’d be better at it because dogs seem to be so sensitive to social cues from humans,” says Mr. Petter, a dog lover all his life. Through the interview, his dog Duenna lies at his feet and perks up at the mention of her name. “But there’s no evidence dogs can understand the intentions of a deceiver, nothing that told us the dogs thought, ‘hey this person is deceiving me, I shouldn’t listen to them.’”
In the experiments, dogs were allowed to choose between two containers, one of which contained a food reward. A cooperative human tester stood behind and pointed to the baited container on half the trials, and a deceptive human tester pointed to the empty container on the other half of the trials. While the dogs approached the cooperator more often than the deceiver, the difference was not significant enough to indicate an understanding of the intentions of the deceiver. “They had a lot of time to learn what was going on, but they never really picked up on it,” says Mr. Petter.
In comparison, studies done with apes revealed the apes could differentiate between cooperators and deceivers: “Most apes learned to never approach the person who was lying to them, and even learned to deceive the humans.”
For centuries, dogs have been valued by their humans for their trusting, loyal natures, which may explain why they’re so lousy at figuring out when someone’s trying to trick them. But Mr. Petter says the experiments didn’t differentiate between breeds and it’s possible that some breeds would fare better at the experiments than others.
Since coming to Dalhousie to do graduate work in chronic disease a few years ago, the Ontario native figured his research with dogs was behind him. But maybe he was deceiving himself?
He’s now researching whether owning a dog helps people recover and maintain their health after undergoing a life-changing experience, such as heart surgery.
“Do dog owners exercise more? Are they able to maintain higher physical activity levels over the course of the year?” asks Mr. Petter, 27. “Something tells me if you’ve got a dog at the door with its leash in its mouth, that that may have an affect on whether you go for a walk.”
Charles Crosby | Newswise Science News
The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft
Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
22.09.2017 | Life Sciences
22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering
22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy