Horses and pigs can also tell our positive emotions from our negative ones, according to a new study.
There is a form of empathy called emotional contagion that exists not only between humans, but also between different animal species. Dogs, for example, perceive the emotions contained in our voice, but new research from the University of Copenhagen and ETH Zurich has shown that horses and pigs can also distinguish between positive and negative expressions in human language, and respond accordingly. In other words, how we speak matters not only to dogs, but also to other animals, who show the ability to distinguish whether what we say has a positive or negative charge.
Our emotions are felt not only by dogs, but also by horses and pigs.
Research in particular has focused on the behavioral responses of horses, pigs, and wild boars to human voices and the sounds of animals playing various sounds through hidden loudspeakers. To prevent the animals from reacting to certain words, recordings of human voices were made by a professional voice actor who delivered speeches in a positive or negative tone, using phrases of no particular importance. The behavior of the animals was then monitored for a number of categories used in previous studies, such as ear position and other movements.
This approach, described in a study that has just been published in the journal BMK Biology, allowed the researchers to notice that horses and pigs react more strongly to negative sounds made by animals of the same species, other species or people. Horses, for example, spent more time walking and less time wagging their tails, suggesting that when they heard a negative sound made by any animal, they were more alert. Pigs, on the other hand, ate less and spent more time. Boars, on the other hand, did not respond differently to positive or negative sounds made by their relatives or humans.
” Our results show that animals such as horses and domestic pigs are affected by the emotions we put into our voice when we speak or are around them. They react more strongly—usually faster—when they hear a negatively charged voice than in the presence of a positively charged voice. In some situations, they even seem to reflect the emotions they are exposed to.said Elodie Brifer from the Department of Biology at the University of Copenhagen and author of the study.
Part of the objectives of the study was to study emotional contagion in animals, that is, the perception of emotions and the ability to reflect the same emotions. In behavioral biology, this type of response is seen as the first step towards empathy. ” If future research projects clearly demonstrate that these animals reflect emotions, as our research suggests, it will be very interesting to test this ability in relation to the history of emotion development and the degree to which animals have emotional life and levels. consciousness. .Elodie concluded, suggesting that “IThe way we talk to animals can have a direct impact on their emotional state and well-being.“.