New study finds goats prefer smiling faces

New study finds goats prefer smiling faces

Writing in the journal Royal Society Open Science, the team describe how 20 goats interacted with images of positive (happy) and negative (angry) human facial expressions and found that they preferred to look and interact with the happy faces.

There's a lot more going on behind a goat's freaky eyes than we may think.

"Dogs are very skilful at perceiving human communicative cues, and they can also integrate visual and acoustic emotional information", says Savalli Redigolo "Horses also seem to perceive and differentiate emotional valences from human faces".

The work builds on previous research that found goats can be as 'loving and smart as dogs', and it's just further validation that they're delightful wholesome creatures that we probably don't deserve to have in our lives.

A new study shows that goats prefer a happy human face instead of an angry one, which suggests such socio-cognitive ability is more widespread in the animal kingdom than previously assumed.

The research has implications for understanding how animals process human emotions.

The goats, all habituated to people, spent more time interacting with (i.e., sniffing, standing next to) the happy human faces.

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Dr Alan McElligott with one of the goats tested. Indeed, the trial including sets of smiling and frowning faces, when done on horses, has demonstrated that horses physiologically respond to photographs of angry human faces with elevated pulses and different indications of stress.

Also, when the happy faces were placed on the goats right side rather than left side, the animals were drawn to them like bees to honey.

The study of emotion perception has already revealed complex capabilities in dogs and horses, says co-author Natalia Albuquerque, from the University of Sao Paulo.

Goats are believed to have first been domesticated around 10,000 years ago in the Middle East.

Could goats be a man's best friend?

"However, to date, there was no evidence that animals such as goats were capable of reading human facial expressions". "These aren't "dumb" animals", he said. So ... goats are the new human?

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