In their new study, researchers show that dogs react differently to misinformation when someone deceives or misleads them. The results suggest that dogs have an initial ‘theory’ that is used to ‘explain’ what their owners intend to do.
Although every dog owner believes their dog “understands” it, the theory has not been scientifically proven in our four-legged peers. Previous studies have mostly looked at whether or not dogs understand deception, but these have led to conflicting results.
Science in general is still debating whether animals are capable of the so-called “mind reading” needed to recognize a lie.– said Ludwig Huber, Head of the Messerli Comparative Recognition Unit at the Vienna Research Institute Live Science Online science portal.
To find out the answer, Huber and his colleagues researched 260 dogs of different ages and dozens of different breeds for an experiment in which the dogs were shown two opaque buckets to put food in. One person conducting the experiment initially always hid the food in one container, but transferred the food to the second container in the second half of the test before leaving the room. Meanwhile, another person, based on what he saw, told the dogs where to look for food. In the first stage of the experiment, the four-legged man had not seen where the food was hiding before, but the experimenter always told him the truth.
In a second stage, the authors tested how dog bucket selection was affected by communication behavior.
Here, they usually refer to the wrong bucket, but most dogs didn’t choose it.
Since most dogs refused to follow the person’s instructions about where to eat, it is possible that the dogs realized that the suggestion was “misleading.” Lucrezia Leonardo, a doctoral student at the Messerli Research Institute, explained. Dogs may have considered “misinformation” a “good faith” error.
a Proceedings of the Royal Society B In a study published in a scientific journal, scientists expected to find the opposite pattern of results for most dogs. He thought the dogs might wonder why the vast experimenter first suggested the wrong tank.
However, the researchers say more research is needed to accurately examine the reactions of different species to different human intentions. Therefore, new studies are being planned to test the ability of our four-legged friends to understand people’s mental states such as lying.
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