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Study: Dogs can sense emotion in human faces

By Chris V. Thangham     Oct 30, 2008 in World
British researchers claim that dogs can read emotion on faces just like people can sense, happiness, sadness or angry feelings in others.
The researchers from the University of Lincoln in England suggest that dogs behave just like humans in reading emotions on faces.
They base their premise on the “left gaze bias” theory. When humans look at a new face, their eyes tend to move toward the left, falling on the right side of the stranger’s face first. This “left gaze bias” occurs only when humans see faces not when they observe other objects or animals.
The researchers believe this bias helps them better analyze the human emotions.
The researchers led by Dr. Kun Guo observed the same behavior in dogs. When dogs were shown human faces, they shift their eyes just like humans and have a prominent “left gaze bias”.
They showed 17 dogs various images of human, dog and monkey faces; whenever the human face appeared, the dogs had a “left gaze bias”. They didn’t display this behavior when shown non-human faces.
Guo and his team suggest that dogs might have accrued this behavior because of their long-time association with humans over thousands of years.
In their report in [i]New Scientist magazine[/i], they wrote:
Recent studies show that the right side of our faces can express emotions more accurately and more intensely than the left, including anger. If true, then it makes sense for dogs - and humans - to inspect the right hand side of a face first.
But when the images were flipped for both humans and dogs, they displayed different behaviors.
The dogs still maintained the “left gaze bias”, while humans lost their bias altogether.
Have you noticed this behavior with your pet dog?
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