A new experiment recently revealed a dog's behavior, enabling the pet to determine whether an act of a person is intentional or unintentional.

ScienceAlert report said, in experiments with over 50 dogs, researchers set up a test to investigate if dogs could identify the difference between "human intention and lack of intention."

Certainly, dogs see their owners, and there's no doubt about that. The so-called man's best friends are always alert and attentive, not to mention devoted to humans.

However, despite their adoring stare, it makes many how strongly they can determine what people do and if they can discern the meaning of an action, be it intentional or an intentional one. According to a new study, perhaps, these animals can, at least to some degree.

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Science Times - Dog Behavior: Study Reveals How Man's Best Friend Can Distinguish Humans' Intentional Acts from Unintentional Ones
(Photo: Marek Szturc on Unsplash)
At the start of the experiment, a slim gap in the middle of the partition allowed the study investigator to feed the dog food rewards, which was done several times.

Intentional vs. Unintentional Human Actions

The study, Dogs, distinguish human intentional and unintentional action, published in Scientific Reports, found that dogs could correctly identify the difference between intentional and unintentional acts of humans.

According to Britta Schünemann, a psychology researcher at the University of Göttingen in Germany, the dogs in their research "clearly behaved differently" depending on whether a human experimenter's actions were intentional or intentional. Their result suggests that dogs may certainly be able to determine the "intention-in-action" of humans.

Using an established system known as the "Unwilling vs Unable," paradigm, the researcher sat on one side of a see-through partition, with a dog subject on the other.

At the start of the experiment, a slim gap in the middle of the partition allowed the study investigator to feed the dog food rewards, which was done several times.

Following this procedure, the actual test started from which the food rewards were still shown to the dog subjects, although they were not given to them in one of three different methods.

3-Way Method

In their study, the researchers explained that in the unwilling condition, the experimenter quickly withdrew the reward from the dog that had an intentional movement. The unwilling condition indicated the experimenter deliberately withholding the treat from the animal.

On the contrary, according to a similar Chop News report, two other ways showed instances where the study author intended to feed the dog but failed to do so.

Meanwhile, the researchers wrote, in the unable-clumsy condition, the experimenter pretended to attempt to administer the reward, although it "accidentally" fell out of her hand before passing it through the gap.

Similarly, explained the study author, she attempted to administer the reward in the unable-blocked condition but failed to pass it through the gap since it was blocked.

In each scenario, the dog could not get the food reward, although the point was trying to find out if it acted differently according to the nature of the failure.

The researchers wanted to know if the dog could recognize the intention to feed and distinguish it from an unintentional act.

Observing the Dogs' Behavior

According to senior researcher Juliane Bräuer, also an animal cognition scientist at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, "if dogs are indeed able to ascribe intention-in-action" to humans, they are then expected to exhibit different reactions in the unwilling condition, compared to the two other unable conditions. As a result, added, Bräuer, as it turns out, is exactly what they observed.

Before the experiment, dogs had been familiarized with the laboratory setting and shown that they could actually walk around the see-through pane to reach the experimenter.

The study investigators knew that the dogs might eventually realize it would be simpler to get the treat if they just walked around the said partition to get to reach the food source.

Nonetheless, the team forecasted that dogs who had been deliberately denied the treats would wait longer before trying this, on the basis they might be less likely to obtain the reward anyway.

 Related information about this dog behavior is shown on Tarek Adel's YouTube video below:


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