Research shows that people’s ability to recognize their dogs’ emotions depends on the cultural environment in which they grow up

Even if some people don’t keep dogs, they seem to be able to recognize their emotions naturally,media BGR reported. A new study seeks to shed light on the reasons behind it and suggest that some people’s growing up environment may have a special connection with dogs.

Research shows that people's ability to recognize their dogs' emotions depends on the cultural environment in which they grow up

The study, published in Scientific Reports, was conducted to invite more than 150 participants from Europe and Morocco to identify the dog’s emotions. The volunteers were recruited in groups, with adults and children between the ages of five and six participating. Participants included non-Muslim Europeans as well as Muslims in Europe and Morocco.

Dogs are often seen as impure and rarely integrated into the family in traditional communities in Muslim countries. Obviously, this has nothing to do with the misconception that Muslims hate dogs, but simply suggests that different societies may have important differences in their overall attitude towards dogs.

This provides scientists with a way to measure the emotional recognition of dogs by a group of individuals who did not interact with the dog in the course of their development. Non-Muslim Europeans know much more about dogs by default.

One theory about how well people get along with dogs is called “co-domestication”. The idea is that, in the course of human history, it can be said that the interaction with dogs based on survival and friendship may have imprinted the love of dogs in our DNA. If so, those who grew up in a family without dogs and interacted with them very little should have the ability to recognize the dog’s emotions.

After testing all volunteers’ ability to recognize the dog’s facial expressions and body language, it seems that the theory at least works. The children in the study showed an intrinsic ability to read certain dog anger or excitement, and there was little difference between muslim and non-Muslim groups.

The researchers also said that in adults, participants who grew up in a culture that had a positive attitude toward dogs were more likely to recognize the dog’s emotions, which could lead to different passive contacts, interests, or tendencies about the species. In Europe and Morocco, Muslims without dogs have a harder time accurately identifying their emotions than non-Muslims who don’t have them, suggesting that regular exposure to animals is key to better understanding their behavior.

Interestingly, the researchers also measured participants’ emotional recognition of chimpanzees. Although primates are the closest species to humans in the animal world, no group of volunteers has demonstrated the ability to recognize their emotions.

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