Some dogs are natural pessimists, says study (aww)

September 19, 2014 8:17 AM

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Contrary to their reputation for being tail-wagging people-pleasers who are always up for a W-A-L-K, some dogs are apparently real pessimists. Dr Melissa Starling, from the Faculty of Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney, and her team put together a trial where they taught dogs to associate two different sounds with whether they would get milk (woo-hoo!) or water (bummer). Once the dogs understood the link between the specific tones and the reward (or lack of one), the vets then played them a different musical note.

Those that responded positively were labelled optimistic, as they assumed the best. (Some even reacted positively when the sound was more similar to the sound for water – that’s faith for you.) Those that didn’t trust that an unknown noise would be linked to a treat were labelled pessimistic. Overal...

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