Science Monday: The dog with the moral compass

Have you got a dog in the room with you whilst you’re reading this? If so, watch out, because whilst it might look like the pooch is chewing on your new stilettos, he may actually be plotting to take over the world.

A new study, which only gets stranger the more your read of it, suggests that dogs have adapted through the ages to communicate with humans, and even goes as far as to suggest Fido has a moral compass.

An experiment involving turning a light on with your forehead (no, seriously) apparently indicated that the dogs had a ‘theory of mind’ i.e. could make judgments and inferences about humans. The fact that playful dog play rarely turned into full on fights was taken as evidence that they knew right from wrong. They also decided they had an innate sense of fairness, judging by the way they reacted when one dog was given more treats than another.

And you might have thought that barking was just a thing dogs did, but not so (allegedly). You don’t see it so much in feral dogs, so there’s a suggestion that it’s purely for the benefit of communicating with humans. And if dogs were shown a picture of a human and heard a voice belonging to the opposite gender, they’d stare at the picture longer. Yep, you’ve got it, they were thinking. About humans. And gender. And what the odds were that that was actually Lily Savage on the screen.

Anthropomorphising much?

[via Daily Telegraph]

Susi Weaser