Dogs rapidly develop socially competent behaviour while interacting with a contingently responding self-propelled object

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The relative contribution of evolutionary and ontogenetic mechanisms to the emergence of communicative signals in social interactions is one of the central questions in social cognition. Most previously used methods utilized the presentation of a novel signal or a novel context to test effects of predisposition and/or experience. However, all share the common problem that the familiar social partners used in the test context as actors carry over a variety of contextual information from previous interactions with the subjects. In the present study we utilized a novel method for separating the familiar actor from the action. We tested whether dogs behave in a socially competent way towards an unidentified moving object (UMO) in a communicative situation after interacting with it in a different context. We found that dogs were able to find hidden food based on the approach behaviour of the UMO only if they obtained previous experience with it in a different context. In contrast no such prior experience was needed in the case of an unfamiliar human partner. These results suggest that dogs' social behaviour is flexible enough to generalize from previous communicative interactions with humans to a novel unfamiliar partner, and this inference may be based on the dogs' well-developed social competence. The rapid adjustment to the new context and continued high performance suggest that evolutionary ritualization also facilitates the recognition of potentially communicative actions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-144
Number of pages8
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Volume108
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2015

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dogs
social problems
cognition
social behavior
testing
food
dog
methodology
method
test
effect

Keywords

  • Canis familiaris
  • Dog-human communication
  • Dog-robot interaction
  • Pointing
  • Social behaviour

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

Dogs rapidly develop socially competent behaviour while interacting with a contingently responding self-propelled object. / Gergely, Anna; Abdai, Judit; Petró, Eszter; Kosztolányi, A.; Topál, J.; Miklósi, A.

In: Animal Behaviour, Vol. 108, 01.10.2015, p. 137-144.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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