New Research Tells Us Goats Understand When Humans Smile And They Enjoy It
Although some may not suspect goats to be the most intuitive animals, they have a keen sense of whether people are happy or angry. In fact, new research has found that they not only understand these emotions, but they prefer to be around people who are smiling. Can you blame them?
Behind The Research
The study, published by The Royal Society, used 35 goats from a goat sanctuary in the UK as its subjects. The herd was shown pictures of the same person making either happy or angry expressions. The images were set up on either side of a goat pen, tempting the animals to begin approaching one side or the other.
Put On A Happy Face
The researchers timed the goats’ interactions with the images, trying to determine the level of intelligence the goats used in understanding human social cues. What they found was that the goats were drawn to the positive faces first and would spend more time around the happy images rather than the angry.
The First Of Its Kind
“We present the first evidence that goats can discriminate human facial expressions with different emotional information,” the researchers concluded. “Not only can they distinguish them, but they also generally prefer happy faces, regardless of the gender of the human faces or the sex of the goats.” Who wouldn’t prefer a happy face?
More Than Just Goats
Goats aren’t the only ones who can read humans’ facial cues. Horses and dogs can also distinguish between happy and not-so-happy people. In fact, horses’ heart rates increase when they see angry human faces. They also remember the emotional facial expressions of specific humans they’ve spent time with.
A Higher Level Of Understanding
While animals such as horses and dogs are known to read facial cues from humans, they were specifically bred for interacting with humans. Goats, on the other hand, were bred primarily based on pigmentation, stature, and milking capabilities. This study has revealed that animals’ understanding of humans reaches far beyond companion or working animals – an amazing finding which will likely be the stepping stone for further, important research.
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