Aggression: difficult to identify, especially in dogs

Aggression: difficult to identify, especially in dogs.


The man is good at detecting small expressions on the face of those close to him to gauge their mood. A new study tested the human ability to show 92 adults a clip show of non-verbal interactions. First between two children, then between two domestic dogs or two Berber macaques. 


Participants were split 50/50 to select a more likely outcome of the interaction from three options: neutral, playful, or aggressive. The results were better than expected for identifying neutral and playful interactions. Skills dropped when it came to spotting aggression. Especially in dogs and humans. Perhaps in the former precisely because humans see positively the interactions of dogs for the affection nurtured towards these four-legged friends. This recent study came out in conjunction with the news that humans can tell whether an animal is unhappy or happy by listening to it. 


It is important to be able to make predictions about the future actions of others in order to react optimally. Humans are quite good at categorizing and predicting social situations with other humans, dogs and apes, but it depends on the context. Surprisingly, humans underestimate aggression in dogs.


authors in a note

  • Turns Out We’re Rubbish At Detecting Aggressive Interactions In Dogs (


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