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      Man’s other best friend: domestic cats (F. silvestris catus) and their discrimination of human emotion cues

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      Animal Cognition
      Springer Science and Business Media LLC

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          Abstract

          The ability of domestic dogs (C. lupus famaliaris) to follow and attend to human emotion expressions is well documented. It is unknown whether domestic cats (F. silvestris catus) possess similar abilities. Because cats belong to the same order (Carnivora), but did not evolve to live in complex social groups, research with them enables us to tease apart the influence of social structure versus domestication processes on the capacity to recognize human communicative cues, such as emotions. Two experiments were conducted to determine the extent to which domestic cats discriminate between human emotion cues. The first experiment presented cats with facial and postural cues of happiness and anger from both an unfamiliar experimenter and their familiar owner in the absence of vocal cues. The second experiment presented cats with vocal cues of human emotion through a positively or negatively charged conversation between an experimenter and owner. Domestic cats were only modestly sensitive to emotion, particularly when displayed by their owner, suggesting that a history of human interaction alone may not be sufficient to shape such abilities in domestic cats.

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          The domestication of social cognition in dogs.

          Dogs are more skillful than great apes at a number of tasks in which they must read human communicative signals indicating the location of hidden food. In this study, we found that wolves who were raised by humans do not show these same skills, whereas domestic dog puppies only a few weeks old, even those that have had little human contact, do show these skills. These findings suggest that during the process of domestication, dogs have been selected for a set of social-cognitive abilities that enable them to communicate with humans in unique ways.
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            Human-like social skills in dogs?

            Domestic dogs are unusually skilled at reading human social and communicative behavior--even more so than our nearest primate relatives. For example, they use human social and communicative behavior (e.g. a pointing gesture) to find hidden food, and they know what the human can and cannot see in various situations. Recent comparisons between canid species suggest that these unusual social skills have a heritable component and initially evolved during domestication as a result of selection on systems mediating fear and aggression towards humans. Differences in chimpanzee and human temperament suggest that a similar process may have been an important catalyst leading to the evolution of unusual social skills in our own species. The study of convergent evolution provides an exciting opportunity to gain further insights into the evolutionary processes leading to human-like forms of cooperation and communication.
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              What did domestication do to dogs? A new account of dogs' sensitivity to human actions.

              Over the last two decades increasing evidence for an acute sensitivity to human gestures and attentional states in domestic dogs has led to a burgeoning of research into the social cognition of this highly familiar yet previously under-studied animal. Dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) have been shown to be more successful than their closest relative (and wild progenitor) the wolf, and than man's closest relative, the chimpanzee, on tests of sensitivity to human social cues, such as following points to a container holding hidden food. The "Domestication Hypothesis" asserts that during domestication dogs evolved an inherent sensitivity to human gestures that their non-domesticated counterparts do not share. According to this view, sensitivity to human cues is present in dogs at an early age and shows little evidence of acquisition during ontogeny. A closer look at the findings of research on canine domestication, socialization, and conditioning, brings the assumptions of this hypothesis into question. We propose the Two Stage Hypothesis, according to which the sensitivity of an individual animal to human actions depends on acceptance of humans as social companions, and conditioning to follow human limbs. This offers a more parsimonious explanation for the domestic dog's sensitivity to human gestures, without requiring the use of additional mechanisms. We outline how tests of this new hypothesis open directions for future study that offer promise of a deeper understanding of mankind's oldest companion.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Animal Cognition
                Anim Cogn
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                1435-9448
                1435-9456
                January 2016
                September 23 2015
                January 2016
                : 19
                : 1
                : 193-205
                Article
                10.1007/s10071-015-0927-4
                26400749
                48f7e893-6574-435c-a33c-b3a452b0ab10
                © 2016

                http://www.springer.com/tdm

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