Speed Reads

big pupper is watching you

Your dog is constantly judging you

It's not just your parents who want you to be nice to other people. New research by scientists at Kyoto University has found that dogs judge humans based on how they treat other people, New Scientist reports:

… The researchers tested whether dogs preferred people who helped their owner. Each owner tried to open a container then presented it to one of two actors.

This actor either helped or refused to do so, while the other actor was passive. Then the two actors offered the dog a reward and it chose between them.

The dogs had no preference when the first actor had helped their owner, but were more likely to choose the passive actor if the first one had refused to help. [New Scientist]

Dogs evolved closely alongside humans, which means they are particularly sensitive to how people act. The Kyoto study also tested monkeys, and found similar results, with the primates preferring people who acted kindly or generously. Even human morality might be evolutionary: "I think that in humans there may be this basic sensitivity towards antisocial behavior in others. Then through growing up, inculturation and teaching, it develops into a full-blown sense of morality,” said comparative psychologist James Anderson.

Watch the dogs make judgments in the study below. Jeva Lange