Sociability modifies dogs’ sensitivity to biological motion of different social relevance

Ishikawa, Yuko and Mills, Daniel and Willmott, Alexander and Mullineaux, David and Guo, Kun (2018) Sociability modifies dogs’ sensitivity to biological motion of different social relevance. Animal Cognition, 21 (2). pp. 245-252. ISSN 1435-9448

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Preferential attention to living creatures is believed to be an intrinsic capacity of the visual system of several species, with perception of biological motion often studied and, in humans, it correlates with social cognitive performance. Although domestic dogs are exceptionally attentive to human social cues, it is unknown whether their sociability is associated with sensitivity to conspecific and heterospecific biological motion cues of different social relevance. We recorded video clips of point-light displays depicting a human or dog walking in either frontal or lateral view. In a preferential looking paradigm, dogs spontaneously viewed 16 paired point-light displays showing combinations of normal/inverted (control condition), human/dog and frontal/lateral views. Overall, dogs looked significantly longer at frontal human point-light display versus the inverted control, probably due to its clearer social/biological relevance. Dogs’ sociability, assessed through owner-completed questionnaires, further revealed that low-sociability dogs preferred the lateral point-light display view, whereas high-sociability dogs preferred the frontal view. Clearly, dogs can recognize biological motion, but their preference is influenced by their sociability and the stimulus salience, implying biological motion perception may reflect aspects of dogs’ social cognition.

Keywords:Biological motion, Sociability, Social relevance, Viewing perspective
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:30499
Deposited On:20 Feb 2018 08:37

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