Today’s Solutions: October 06, 2022

More and more people are realizing that animals are sentient beings with complex emotional capabilities. Laws in Spain have recently changed to recognize them as such and many studies have also confirmed this, like this experiment which was able to decode pigs’ emotions.

An international collaboration of scientists from the University of Copenhagen and ETH Zurich have recently conducted research developing an understanding of animal emotions. Their experiments investigated whether domesticated pigs and horses can tell the difference between sounds of their own species, near relatives, and human voices. They also looked into if the animals could tell the difference between positively or negatively charged human voices.

How did they study this?

The team played recordings of animal and human sounds from hidden speakers to the domesticated animals. To avoid the creatures drawing from previous experiences and recognizing specific words, positive and negative gibberish speech was performed by a voice actor. Through watching the animals’ reactions and drawing from previous research, the scientists categorized their behavior.

Can animals “hear” emotions?

The results showed that all species investigated can differentiate sounds between species and sense the tone of human voices. “Our results show that these animals are affected by the emotions we charge our voices with when we speak to or are around them. They react more strongly – generally faster – when they are met with a negatively charged voice, compared to having a positively charged voice played to them first,” explains Elodie Briefer, co-author of the study.

Part of the study also set out to investigate animals’ “emotional cognition,” behavioral biologists believe that this is the first step of empathy. “In certain situations, they even seem to mirror the emotion to which they are exposed,” added Briefer, implying the animals have an emotional life and level of consciousness.

Why is this research important?

This research suggests how we talk around animals is important and may have an impact on their well-being. “It means that our voices have a direct impact on the emotional state of animals, which is very interesting from an animal welfare perspective,” Briefer says.

Hopefully, this research will reinforce the idea that animals should be treated with respect and encourage lawmakers to enforce better conditions for livestock. The team plans to develop this research further, looking into how well humans understand the animal sounds of emotion.

Source study: BMC BiologyCross-species discrimination of vocal expression of emotional valence by Equidae and Suidae

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

The world’s whitest paint may soon make travel even cooler

The world's whitest paint, which has the ability to reflect about 98% of incoming sunlight, was created last year by Purdue University engineers using ...

Read More

How your body benefits from collagen supplements

In recent years, collagen supplements have become quite popular—and for good reason. Collagen, which is the most abundant protein in your body, has a ...

Read More

Jacinda Ardern is showing politicians how to lead during a crisis

As a citizen of any country, the dream is to have a leader who does everything in their power to make sure their country’s ...

Read More

Why you should take your new houseplant out of its plastic pot ASAP

When you purchase a new houseplant, chances are it will come in a plastic pot. Your first order of business should be to transfer ...

Read More