Princeton University Library Catalog

Behavioral Responses of Domestic Dogs to Human Emotion: An Experimental Study and a Review on Dog Social Cognitive Research

Cash, Jan [Browse]
Senior thesis
Couzin, Iain [Browse]
Princeton University. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology [Browse]
Class year:
49 pages
Summary note:
Empathy in dogs is a relatively new topic of study that has began to emerge. Studies in dog cognition have been limited by the available techniques that can be used to study dogs, however, indirect methods may be applied to experimentally test whether dogs exhibit behavior consistent with empathetic reactions. In this study, dogs were found to react to a crying person in a manner potentially consistent with an empathetic reaction, with results similar to prior experiments. Dogs also showed significant changes in their heart rate variability in LF/HF and HF measures when exposed to a crying person, as well as lowered HF when dogs were exposed to a laughing person compared to a crying person. As lowered LF/HF and HF values are associated with stress and negative emotional reactions, this indicates that dogs have an internal reaction to human emotions that matches their behavioral responses.