Skip to comments.Study: Dogs show empathy to crying people
Posted on 06/18/2012 7:20:06 AM PDT by JoeProBono
LONDON, - Dogs respond to a person who is crying regardless of whether it is their owner or an unfamiliar person, researchers in Britain found.
Dr. Deborah Custance and Jennifer Mayer, both of the Department of Psychology at the University of London, developed a procedure to examine whether domestic dogs could identify and respond to emotional states in humans.
Eighteen pet dogs -- a range of ages and breeds -- were exposed to four separate 20-second experimental conditions in which either the dog's owner or an unfamiliar person pretended to cry, hummed in an odd manner, or carried out a casual conversation.
More dogs looked at, approached and touched the humans as they were crying as opposed to humming, and no dogs responded to those talking, Custance said.
The study, published in the journal Animal Cognition, found a majority of dogs in the study responded to the crying person in a submissive manner consistent with empathic concern and comfort-offering.
"If the dogs' approaches during the crying condition were motivated by self-oriented comfort-seeking, they would be more likely to approach their usual source of comfort, their owner, rather than the stranger," Mayer said in a statement. "No such preference was found. The dogs approached whoever was crying regardless of their identity. Thus they were responding to the person's emotion, not their own needs, which is suggestive of empathic-like comfort-offering behavior."
No wonder they are man’s best friend. I wonder what the experiment would result in if it were run with other animals such as cats and horses. I bet that dogs would be found to be the most responsive.
All dogs go to heaven.
Great post with which to start off the day.
I love this picture. Looks so much like my beautiful Riley.
“Dr. Deborah Custance and Jennifer Mayer, both of the Department of Psychology at the University of London, developed a procedure to examine whether domestic dogs could identify and respond to emotional states in humans. “
Seems like we’ve known the answer to this for...I don’t know...thousands of years?
The more I know about people...the more I love animals.
Dogs respond to crying, but not to talking?
Sounds like the old husband stereotype.
But we already knew that. ...man’s best friend and all.
Seems like weve known the answer to this for...I dont know...thousands of years?
I wondered why they needed a study for this.
.Cat's would laugh at you.....
Of course dogs are the most responsive, but cats and some horses note human distress. They just react to it in more subtle ways, ways we may not detect or find comforting.
Anyone who rides horses in a serious manner will tell you that horses react to the emotions of riders. A horse who is apparently misbehaving is sometimes reflecting the emotional upset of his rider, an emotional state the human can successfully conceal from other humans. Any trainer will agree that if you are nervous, the horses can tell and will become nervous too, or will otherwise respond. My horses have become very affectionate when I'm upset, putting their heads in my arms, grooming me gently with their teeth, following me around, resting heads on my shoulder, etc.
Just proved what many people knew all along :)
I had a mama cat who comforted my young children only when they cried. She was the only cat of mine that did this - I always considered it a maternal thing, but I do think that animals are empathetic, maybe moreso than many humans I know.
Client was embarrassed. I knew the dog was trying to help heal me.
Both the dog and me are still okay.
Of course they do. Dogs are very emotional creatures. They don’t have a whole hell of a lot of executive control, i.e. reasoning ability (though they do very well with what they do have), but their emotional empathy skills are top-notch. I believe you’d find that cats respond too, though their comforting skills are not as well developed as dogs.
Dogs have enormous empathy. When my mom was dying (my parents lived with us in their later years), one of my dogs laid beside her on the bed constantly the last few weeks of her life. He only left to “do his business” and eat. When Mom died, Willy kept putting his head under her hand trying to make her pet him. It was so terribly sad, but also moving.
After Mom died, Willy and his sister sat in the recliner with my dad all day long...one on each side of him so he could pet each of them at the same time!
When my husband died, those same dogs stayed beside me all the time, following me around constantly, comforting me and getting me through it. Frankly, I don’t know if I would have made it if it weren’t for my dogs!
we dog lovers already knew the answer before they did their study! Love the picture—we have a lab mix and she is definitely my second shadow. Knows when I’m sad, knows when I’m sick...such a sweet companion. We’ve had cats and horses, too—my daughter often found comfort from her horse when she was crying: she’d cry into his neck and he’d nuzzle her and get very protective of her. Recently we had to sell him (broke ALL of our hearts) and I thought my tears would not ever stop. She is beside herself with sadness, but thank goodness she has a mission trip coming up and can focus on someone else and not her broken heart. She, too, is a BIG animal lover, and plans to be a vet...
"I notice you'se upset!... Are you gonna eat that?!!"
Dogs experience a wide range of human-like feelings. They know family and home, sadness, joy, play, teasing, protectiveness, shame, etc... It's a lot of work to raise a dog to be a really good dog, but once all of that work is done, a dog returns your effort a hundred times over.
Yeah, first they chew up your precious priceless stock certificates of Facebook, and then, when you cry over your lost fortune, they show empathy!
I had a monstrous yellow lab in the past. He loved to play dodge with me. One time, he ran directly into my legs and planted me face down. Despite all the action and excitement, he immediately came over to me very gently and licked me and waited for me to get up. He had a very guilty look on his face.
Doggies haz teh friendlies.
Very sweet. I had a cat once who did the same for me. Rest in peace my surrogate Mommy and Daddy-T man. That cat raised me through my twenties and made me grow up. I am so blessed to have had such a companion. RIP baby and all the other special pets. I often pray for all pets to be comforted especially the ones alone or abused.
Dogs and Cats are angels on earth in my opinion even though I am sort of sure my religion would not agree except for St. Francis of course :-). I’m sticking to it anyway.
This looks just like Mock Dog.
My big, "rescue" Golden Retriever did that to my husband when he was brought to our house by his foster mom on a visit to see if we might adopt him. He flushed a cat out from under the deck and started chasing the cat and knocked over my husband in the process. He stopped dead in his tracks, looking shocked and rather sheepish. He's been with us ever since.
You have the best doggie pictures.
That first one was great... I had to save it.
And how much did this worhtless study co$t ?
Anyone who has a dog knows this !
Husband to wife: “Honey, I can’t help it, it’s a habit I learned from the dog.”
Who done it . . . ? ;-D. That look. Says it all. lol.
Good dog test.
Fall in the floor as if you were in distress.
A good dog will come to the rescue..Licking or trying to turn you.
Bad dog will get nippy or show signs of stress themselves.