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Your Dog is Judging You

Research suggests dogs and monkeys can identify kindness in humans.

16/02/2017 12:10 SAST | Updated 16/02/2017 12:47 SAST
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In case you've been wondering about that side-eye your dog sometimes gives you: it's true. Your dog is judging you.

According to a report in The Times, new research says your dog can tell whether you treat people well or not. Researchers teamed up to investigate whether capuchin monkeys and dogs could tell which humans helped others and which did not – in other words, whether they can make "social evaluations".

The results reportedly showed that the animals can evaluate social behaviour in much the same way as babies.

The report said that animals seem to have an emotional reaction to witnessing unkindness.

According to the report, the researchers performed tests in which scenarios were played out – two actors would perform acts of kindness and unkindness. The animals reportedly chose the humans who performed acts of kindness, indicating that they could tell the difference.

The Times quoted researcher, primatologist Frans de Waal of Emory University, Georgia:

"Monkeys in the wild are likely to use similar processes to decide which members of their group they can co-operate with... I don't think you can conclude that it makes the monkeys moral beings, but 'image scoring', as reputation building is sometimes called, provides an important key mechanism."