Dogs (Canis familiaris) adjust their social behaviour to the differential role of inanimate interactive agents

Eszter Petró, Judit Abdai, Anna Gergely, J. Topál, A. Miklósi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Dogs are able to flexibly adjust their social behaviour to situation-specific characteristics of their human partner’s behaviour in problem situations. However, dogs do not necessarily detect the specific role played by the human in a particular situation: they may form expectations about their partners’ behaviour based on previous experiences with them. Utilising inanimate objects (UMO—unidentified moving object) as interacting agents offers new possibilities for investigating social behaviour, because in this way we can remove or control the influence of previous experience with the partner. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether dogs are able to recognise the different roles of two UMOs and are able to adjust their communicative behaviour towards them. In the learning phase of the experiment, dogs were presented with a two-way food-retrieval problem in which two UMOs, which differed in their physical appearance and abilities, helped the dog obtain a piece of food in their own particular manner. After a short experience with both UMOs, dogs in the test phase faced one of the problems in the presence of both inanimate agents. Overall, dogs displayed similar levels of gazing behaviour towards the UMOs, but in the first test they looked, approached and touched the relevant partner first. This rapid adjustment of social behaviour towards UMOs suggests that dogs may generalise their experiences with humans to unfamiliar agents and are able to select the appropriate partner when facing a problem situation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-374
Number of pages8
JournalAnimal Cognition
Volume19
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2016

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Social Behavior
social behavior
Dogs
dogs
Social Adjustment
Food
behavior problems
Aptitude
human behavior
food
dog
learning
testing
Learning

Keywords

  • Dog
  • Inanimate agent
  • Problem solving
  • Social interaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

Cite this

Dogs (Canis familiaris) adjust their social behaviour to the differential role of inanimate interactive agents. / Petró, Eszter; Abdai, Judit; Gergely, Anna; Topál, J.; Miklósi, A.

In: Animal Cognition, Vol. 19, No. 2, 01.03.2016, p. 367-374.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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