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Understanding of human communicative motives in domestic dogs
Linköping University, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology.
2009 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 40 credits / 60 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

I investigated the understanding of human communicative motives in domestic dogs. Dogs use human communicative cues, like the pointing gesture when searching for hidden food, but it is uncertain how dogs interpret human communication. 32 dogs were presented with two communicative contexts in an object choice task experimental design. In a cooperative context the experimenter informed the subject where food was hidden by pointing and giving a verbal indication. In a competitive context the experimenter held out her arm towards the correct location in a stop gesture and firmly said no. To be successful in the competitive context the subject had to understand the experimenters communicative motive and make an inference from the prohibition (i.e. she would only prohibit it if there was something good there). The average correct choices were compared between the conditions. The dogs successfully followed the cooperative communication. They showed a trend towards choosing the baited cup in the competitive condition. A second study tested if the stop gesture affected the dogs’ choice, since it is not known how dogs interpret gestures. The pointing cue was now presented with the prohibiting command and the stop gesture was presented with the cooperative verbal cue. The dogs used the cooperative communication but did not understand the competitive context. A difference between the contexts was found. The dogs did not differentiate between the gestures. In conclusion dogs do not make inferences from competitive communication or prohibition but are specialized in utilizing cooperative communication

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. , 27 p.
Keyword [en]
Communicative motive, Dogs, Social cognition, Forbiddance, Object choice task
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-19067ISRN: LiTH-IFM- Ex—09/2138—SEOAI: diva2:223032
Available from: 2009-06-23 Created: 2009-06-10 Last updated: 2009-06-23Bibliographically approved

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Pettersson, Helene
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Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology

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