Event Title

False Beliefs in Dogs

Faculty Advisor

Ellen Furlong

Graduation Year

2020

Location

Center for Natural Sciences

Start Date

4-4-2020 9:00 AM

End Date

4-4-2020 10:00 AM

Description

Dogs tend to perform exceptionally on social reasoning tasks such as locating a hidden object by following a human point. Dogs even outperform non-human primates on such social reasoning tasks. One complex form of social reasoning, understanding false beliefs (FB) -- that another individual may possess a belief contrary to both one’s own belief and reality--remains a pinnacle in understanding social reasoning. Humans understand FB but whether nonhumans understand it remains controversial. We predicted that dogs would demonstrate an understanding of FB. We presented dogs with a stage with a duck in the middle. A researcher watched the duck move inside one of two boxes positioned on either end of the stage. An occluder then hid the researcher so they could not see events on stage. At this point, the duck moved to the opposite box. The occluder then dropped to reveal the researcher, who then reached either toward the box where they had last seen the duck (expected) or to the box where the duck actually was (unexpected). Preliminary results suggest that dogs look longer when the researcher looked in the unexpected box supporting the hypothesis that dogs may understand FB. Further controls can rule out alternative explanations.

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Apr 4th, 9:00 AM Apr 4th, 10:00 AM

False Beliefs in Dogs

Center for Natural Sciences

Dogs tend to perform exceptionally on social reasoning tasks such as locating a hidden object by following a human point. Dogs even outperform non-human primates on such social reasoning tasks. One complex form of social reasoning, understanding false beliefs (FB) -- that another individual may possess a belief contrary to both one’s own belief and reality--remains a pinnacle in understanding social reasoning. Humans understand FB but whether nonhumans understand it remains controversial. We predicted that dogs would demonstrate an understanding of FB. We presented dogs with a stage with a duck in the middle. A researcher watched the duck move inside one of two boxes positioned on either end of the stage. An occluder then hid the researcher so they could not see events on stage. At this point, the duck moved to the opposite box. The occluder then dropped to reveal the researcher, who then reached either toward the box where they had last seen the duck (expected) or to the box where the duck actually was (unexpected). Preliminary results suggest that dogs look longer when the researcher looked in the unexpected box supporting the hypothesis that dogs may understand FB. Further controls can rule out alternative explanations.