University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna - Research portal

Diagrammed Link to Homepage University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna

Selected Publication:

Type of publication: Journal Article
Type of document: Full Paper

Year: 2021

Authors: Lonardo, L; Völter, CJ; Lamm, C; Huber, L

Title: Dogs follow human misleading suggestions more often when the informant has a false belief.

Source: Proc Biol Sci. 2021; 288(1955):20210906

Authors Vetmeduni Vienna:

Huber Ludwig
Lonardo Lucrezia
Völter Christoph

Vetmed Research Units
Messerli Research Institute, Comparative Cognition

Project(s): Convergent evolution of the social brain? A comparative dog-human fMRI approach

We investigated whether dogs (Canis familiaris) distinguish between human true (TB) and false beliefs (FB). In three experiments with a pre-registered change of location task, dogs (n = 260) could retrieve food from one of two opaque buckets after witnessing a misleading suggestion by a human informant (the 'communicator') who held either a TB or a FB about the location of food. Dogs in both the TB and FB group witnessed the initial hiding of food, its subsequent displacement by a second experimenter, and finally, the misleading suggestion to the empty bucket by the communicator. On average, dogs chose the suggested container significantly more often in the FB group than in the TB group and hence were sensitive to the experimental manipulation. Terriers were the only group of breeds that behaved like human infants and apes tested in previous studies with a similar paradigm, by following the communicator's suggestion more often in the TB than in the FB group. We discuss the results in terms of processing of goals and beliefs. Overall, we provide evidence that pet dogs distinguish between TB and FB scenarios, suggesting that the mechanisms underlying sensitivity to others' beliefs have not evolved uniquely in the primate lineage.

© University of Veterinary Medicine ViennaHelp and DownloadsAccessibility statement