Using judgement bias to measure positive emotional states in dogs

Burman, Oliver and McGowan, Ragen and Mendl, Michael and Norling, Yezica and Paul, Elizabeth and Rehn, Therese and Keeling, Linda (2011) Using judgement bias to measure positive emotional states in dogs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 132 (3-4). pp. 160-168. ISSN 0168-1591

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Using judgement bias to measure positive emotional states in dogs
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Full text URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2011.04.001

Abstract

Interest in the induction and measurement of positive affective states in non-human animals is increasing. Here, we used a test of cognitive (judgement) bias, based on the finding that individuals experiencing different affective states judge ambiguous stimuli differently, to measure whether a positive low arousal affective state (e.g. ‘satisfaction’/’contentment’) could be induced in domestic dogs as a result of their experiencing a food-based rewarding event. In this rewarding event, subjects (1yr old female Beagles) had to search for small amounts of food randomly placed within a maze arena. Using a balanced within-subjects design, the dogs (N=12) received a cognitive bias test either without experiencing the rewarding event (the ‘Neutral’ treatment), or directly after experiencing the rewarding event (the ‘Post-consumption’ treatment). In the test, dogs were trained that one visual cue (e.g. dark grey card) predicted a positive event (food in a bowl) while a different cue (e.g. light grey card) predicted a relatively ‘negative’ event (empty bowl). We hypothesised that dogs tested after experiencing the rewarding event, and in a presumed post-consummatory positive affective state, would be more likely to judge visually ambiguous stimuli (intermediate grey cards) positively, compared to dogs in the ‘Neutral’ treatment. In contrast, we found that they took significantly longer to approach an intermediate ambiguous stimulus, suggesting that they were less likely to anticipate food (a negative judgement) compared to dogs in the ‘Neutral’ treatment group. Various explanations for the observed results are discussed, in particular how reward acquisition and consumption may influence positive affective state induction in animals.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Interest in the induction and measurement of positive affective states in non-human animals is increasing. Here, we used a test of cognitive (judgement) bias, based on the finding that individuals experiencing different affective states judge ambiguous stimuli differently, to measure whether a positive low arousal affective state (e.g. ‘satisfaction’/’contentment’) could be induced in domestic dogs as a result of their experiencing a food-based rewarding event. In this rewarding event, subjects (1yr old female Beagles) had to search for small amounts of food randomly placed within a maze arena. Using a balanced within-subjects design, the dogs (N=12) received a cognitive bias test either without experiencing the rewarding event (the ‘Neutral’ treatment), or directly after experiencing the rewarding event (the ‘Post-consumption’ treatment). In the test, dogs were trained that one visual cue (e.g. dark grey card) predicted a positive event (food in a bowl) while a different cue (e.g. light grey card) predicted a relatively ‘negative’ event (empty bowl). We hypothesised that dogs tested after experiencing the rewarding event, and in a presumed post-consummatory positive affective state, would be more likely to judge visually ambiguous stimuli (intermediate grey cards) positively, compared to dogs in the ‘Neutral’ treatment. In contrast, we found that they took significantly longer to approach an intermediate ambiguous stimulus, suggesting that they were less likely to anticipate food (a negative judgement) compared to dogs in the ‘Neutral’ treatment group. Various explanations for the observed results are discussed, in particular how reward acquisition and consumption may influence positive affective state induction in animals.
Keywords:Positive affect, Dogs, Cognition, Animal welfare
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C120 Behavioural Biology
D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D328 Animal Welfare
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:4677
Deposited By: Oliver Burman
Deposited On:29 Sep 2011 20:36
Last Modified:13 Mar 2013 09:02

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