Dog growls express various contextual and affective content for human listeners

T. Faragó, N. Takács, A. Miklósi, P. Pongrácz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Vocal expressions of emotions follow simple rules to encode the inner state of the caller into acoustic parameters, not just within species, but also in cross-species communication. Humans use these structural rules to attribute emotions to dog vocalizations, especially to barks, which match with their contexts. In contrast, humans were found to be unable to differentiate between playful and threatening growls, probably because single growls’ aggression level was assessed based on acoustic size cues. To resolve this contradiction, we played back natural growl bouts from three social contexts (food guarding, threatening and playing) to humans, who had to rate the emotional load and guess the context of the playbacks. Listeners attributed emotions to growls according to their social contexts. Within threatening and playful contexts, bouts with shorter, slower pulsing growls and showing smaller apparent body size were rated to be less aggressive and fearful, but more playful and happy. Participants associated the correct contexts with the growls above chance. Moreover, women and participants experienced with dogs scored higher in this task. Our results indicate that dogs may communicate honestly their size and inner state in a serious contest situation, while manipulatively in more uncertain defensive and playful contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number170134
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Volume4
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 17 2017

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listener
emotion
acoustics
aggression
food
communication

Keywords

  • Bioacoustics
  • Dog–human communication
  • Emotion recognition
  • Growl
  • Vocal expression of emotions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this

Dog growls express various contextual and affective content for human listeners. / Faragó, T.; Takács, N.; Miklósi, A.; Pongrácz, P.

In: Royal Society Open Science, Vol. 4, No. 5, 170134, 17.05.2017.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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