Dogs and monkeys have already proven to be some of the most intelligent, social animals. Now, new research says they are able to judge negative behavior in others and react accordingly.
A team of researchers from Kyoto University in Japan conducted a round of tests to determine if animal pets have a sense of morality by which they react to their owners and people around them. This has already been established as true in human babies, Metro UK reports.
James Anderson, a comparative pyschologist and lead author on the study, asked his team to carry out three scenarios. The dog can see its owner trying to open a can, and asks three passersby for help. The first one gladly helps, the second one refuses and the third is indifferent.
After the passersby reacted to the scenario – either helping, refusing or not doing anything – they would turn to the dog and offer a treat. According to the researchers, the dogs accepted treats from those who helped their owners, but ignored the treats given by those who did not help.
The researchers repeated the experiment on monkeys, and got the same results. This pattern shows that pets are able to tell when people are behaving badly, and act similarly. Anderson said,
If somebody is behaving antisocially, they probably end up with some sort of emotional reaction to it.
The team stated that pets most likely have become more sensitive to human behavior because of the long-standing relationships they have with people.
Frans de Waal of Emory University praised the study, saying it proves that people ultimately do good when they are being watched or noticed by others, since “human morality is very much based on reputation building.”
In 2011, the same university conducted an experiment that showed dogs preferred people who gave beggars food, compared to those who did not.
The study was published in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews.