Has your dog ever given you that look as though it’s saying, “I know what you did”? Did it make you feel like you were being judged? If that’s the case, then you better reevaluate your actions. According to a team of researchers from the Kyoto University in Japan, who conducted a series of scientific studies, a dog is a good judge of character, so you should trust their instincts. And the way the experiment was performed was absolutely fascinating.
People generally avoid judging a book by its cover. Instead, they try to look for the best in others, which ultimately proves to be a very bad idea. It turns out that you should trust your instincts more. Just ask dogs, who have an incredible ability to determine whether they like someone or not right away. This would certainly save most of us a lot of headaches. Now, dogs try to warn us sometimes, but we’re not always very receptive.
Has your dog ever behaved oddly? There are times that they growl at certain people while other times they’ll simply walk away as if trying to avoid someone. These are some warning signs that shouldn’t be ignored, but most people will do just that. But you should really consider trusting your dog’s instincts. And an earlier experiment conducted at the Kyoto University in Japan explains why you should.
A scientist took a dog into a room with two bowls. One bowl was empty and the other was filled with food. The scientist then pointed to the bowl that had food in and the dog walked over to it. That was the first round. During the second round of the experiment, the dog would return to the test environment, but this time, the scientist pointed to the bowl that was empty. And when the dog approached the empty bowl, the scientist noticed an interesting pattern.
During the third round of the experiment, the scientist and the dog walked into the test environment again. But this time, the bowl the scientist pointed to was full again. However, the dog and all other dogs tested didn’t approach the third bowl because they remembered having been fooled during round two. But when a new person walked into the room and pointed to the full bowl, the dog did as it was told. But what about a quick judge of character?
James Anderson worked in the division of behavioral studies and was responsible for spearheading the project at Kyoto University. He originally tried this experiment with human babies because he wanted to determine what age people started passing judgment. Anderson learned that children who were only a year old had the ability to judge. So, he decided to study the behavior in animals, and he discovered something jaw dropping.
After experimenting on humans, Anderson decided to try his experiment on a bunch of capuchin monkeys. He came up with a way to see if a monkey could learn to trust a human simply by observing them. Once he was pleased with the results of the experiments, he started to experiment with dogs. He believed this would allow him to broaden his understanding of judgment in different species. But this proved difficult.
Scientists were skeptical when Anderson pitched his idea because they didn’t believe that there was a way to compare the behavior of a monkey and a dog. But Anderson pushed forward because he believed in the experiment. However, his fellow scientists jeered him for his efforts. So, Anderson had to find a different approach to achieve his goal. Everyone understood that monkeys were a lot smarter than dogs. But did they really accept this?
Anderson found a study conducted at the University of Arizona between monkeys and dogs. Monkeys had been paired with two-year-old humans to determine the similarities in their responses to commands. Dogs were also used for this experiment and the outcome left the scientists in a state of shock. The results suggested that dogs had done a lot better than chimpanzees. The scientists concluded that human toddlers and dogs had a lot more in common. So, using this knowledge, Anderson decided to proceed with his own experiment without any obstacles.
Anderson was so excited with the results. He was convinced that the experiment would work with dogs. So, he gathered a team of researchers and they worked together to create an experiment that was nearly identical to the test conducted on the capuchin monkeys. Then, Anderson wondered, why change the experiment? Instead, he used the same experiment he conducted earlier and it was a good thing that he did.
In the experiment, three people walked into a room with a dog. The middle person had a jar, which they struggled to open. When they couldn’t, they passed the jar to the person next to them. One person would refuse, the other person gladly helped to open the jar. The two helpers then praised the dog to see who it would respond to, and the results were identical.
The dog approached the person who was the kindest. The dog would even wag its tail as it waited to get praised by the kind individual. The other test subject who refused to help was ignored, which determined the way dogs could pick up on negative people. The unkind human didn’t seem to be on the dog’s radar. But why did Anderson conduct this experiment? The answer to this is fascinating.
Kiley Hamlin once said, “The capacity to make evaluations of others could help to stabilize complex social systems by enabling individuals to exclude bad social partners." If people could learn from the way the dog reacted in this experiment, then people might be able to do what Hamlin’s statement suggested. Weeding out the toxic people in our lives in mere minutes, instead of years, could change the world.
Anderson says, “I think that in humans there may be this basic sensitivity towards antisocial behavior in others.” But this is lost with the help of cultural conditioning and the passage of time. So, we tend to accept uncultured people instead of pushing them out of our lives. This causes a great deal of unnecessary damage, so we need to try to adopt some of the practices from this experiment.
If you ever find yourself doubting your dog’s judgment, simply read the Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews Journal. This is where Anderson’s entire experiment was published. There’s a reason why dogs don’t like certain people, and the more we trust their instincts, the better we’ll all be. Your dog’s always trying to tell you something. So, keep an eye out for those people in your life they dislike!