A new study shows super sensitive people read more into dog faces than others
If you consider yourself to be a dog person and also happen to be super sensitive, chances are you feel empathy when looking into the face of your dog. This really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who loves dogs. But research suggests that humans interpret dog facial expressions just like they do with human facial expressions.
Except dog facial expressions are way cuter — just sayin’.
A recent study done by the University of Helsinki and Aalto University took a close look at how empathy and other psychological factors affect people’s assessments of the facial images of dogs and humans.
The results show that human empathy, or the ability to share someone else’s feelings or experiences, directly affects how you perceive the facial expressions of dogs. And this basically proves that you’re just as close to your dog as you think you are.
"Empathy affected assessments of dogs’ facial expressions even more than previous experience of dogs, probably because the face is a biologically important stimulus for humans," postdoctoral researcher Miiamaaria Kujala explained. "Our earlier studies have showed, however, that when considering the entire body language of dogs, previous experience of dogs increases in importance."
But don’t get too excited about this new discovery (that you’ve for sure always known).
While you may think you’re totally feeling what your dog is throwing down, it’s possible you’re over-interpreting the expression. In fact, being more empathetic can mean you’ll feel more strongly about their dogs facial expressions. And that can make you more inaccurate in reading it.
Not surprisingly, the look of a threat on a dog’s face is way easier to detect than happiness, according to the Animal Mind research group. The same goes for a dog’s ability to detect a threatening look on your face.
"They gazed intensively at threatening dogs, but quickly looked away from threatening humans. Also human subjects were good at recognizing the threatening expressions of dogs and considered them much more intense than similar human expressions," Kujala pointed out.
The University of Helsinki did a similar study last year that found that dogs can totally read the faces of their humans, specifically by looking into their eyes. And that explains why they always know how you’re feeling.
So obviously the takeaway here is that dogs and humans just get each other and will always be best friends for life.