4 Questions about human-dog psychology answered by these studies.
Can dogs actually look like their owners?
A study was conducted by Roy and Christenfeld in 2004 that found dogs do resemble there owners. But, there is a catch. They found that only purebred dogs resembled their owners. An article was written analyzing the data from this study and the author, Levine, found problems with the original work. He says that we cannot definitively say that purebred dogs resemble their owners. Roy and Christenfeld came out and defended their study saying that their work was accurate. This makes the answer to this question inconclusive.
Do dogs serve as good conversation starters?
There is no surprise that having a dog can do wonders for your social life. Whether you’re out for a walk or at the dog park, there are always friendly faces to strike up a conversation with.
Rogers, Hart, and Boltz did an observational study in 1993 with elderly dog walkers. They found that dogs owners had more conversations than their pet-less counterparts They often talked about their beloved dog, which isn’t very surprising. Dog owners also reported to have higher satisfaction with their social, emotional, and physical states. So dogs not only serve as good conversation starters, they also improve your health!
Do humans talk to their dogs like they talk to their babies?
A lot of people use baby talk to speak to their furry friends. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if someone is speaking to their child or dog. So Mitchell (2001) set out to compare how people talk to dogs with how they talk to infants. Unsurprisingly there were both similarities and differences.
Mitchell found that people used a high-pitched voice, present-tense verbs, and repetitive use of words when talking to both dogs and babies. However, when people spoke to their dogs they gave more orders and used shorter sentences compared to when they spoke to babies.
Since dogs and babies both have limited communication skills and short attention spans, the similarities in the study are not surprising.
Can dogs understand what we’re saying?
Two researchers, Miklosi and Csanyi wanted to look at what people perceived of their dog’s capability to understand them. They gave dog owners in Hungary a questionnaire to fill out on how they feel their dog responds to different types of speech.
The Hungarians thought their dogs responded to questions the most, followed by permissions and then information giving. The researchers then asked the dog owners how well their dog listened to and obeyed a command. They claimed their dogs obeyed commands 31% of the time in any given situation and 53% of the time when the context of the command was right.
Going off of this study it seems that dogs can understand us pretty well! Also, this shows that using the command in the proper context makes a difference, as well.
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