Understanding of other’s actions as goal-directed is considered a fundamental ability underlying cognitive and social development in human infants. A number of studies using the habituation-dishabituation paradigm have shown that the ability to discern intentional relations, in terms of goal-directedness of an action towards an object, appears around 5 months of age. The question of whether non-human species can perceive other’s actions as goal-directed has been more controversial, however there is mounting evidence that at least some primates species do. Recently domestic dogs have been shown to be particularly sensitive to human communicative cues and more so in cooperative and intentional contexts. Furthermore, they have been shown to imitate selectively. Taken together these results suggest that dogs may perceive others’ actions as goal-directed, however no study has investigated this issue directly. In the current study, adopting an infant habituation-dishabituation paradigm, we investigated whether dogs attribute intentions to an animate (a human) but not an inanimate (a black box) agent interacting with an object. Following an habituation phase in which the agent interacted always with one of two objects, two sets of 3 trials were presented: new side trials (in which the agent interacted with the same object as in the habituation trial but placed in a novel location) and new goal trials (in which the agent interacted with the other object placed in the old location). Dogs showed a similar pattern of response to that shown in infants, looking longer in the new goal than new side trials when they saw the human agent interact with the object. No such difference emerging with the inanimate agent (the black box). Results provide the first evidence that a non-primate species can perceive another individual’s actions as goal-directed. We discuss results in terms of the prevailing mentalisitic and non-mentalistic hypotheses regarding goal-attribution.

Do domestic dogs understand human actions as goal-directed? / S. Marshall Pescini, S.M. Ceretta, E. Prato Previde. - In: PLOS ONE. - ISSN 1932-6203. - 9:9(2014), pp. e106530.1-e106530.8. [10.1371/journal.pone.0106530]

Do domestic dogs understand human actions as goal-directed?

S. Marshall Pescini
Primo
;
E. Prato Previde
Ultimo
2014

Abstract

Understanding of other’s actions as goal-directed is considered a fundamental ability underlying cognitive and social development in human infants. A number of studies using the habituation-dishabituation paradigm have shown that the ability to discern intentional relations, in terms of goal-directedness of an action towards an object, appears around 5 months of age. The question of whether non-human species can perceive other’s actions as goal-directed has been more controversial, however there is mounting evidence that at least some primates species do. Recently domestic dogs have been shown to be particularly sensitive to human communicative cues and more so in cooperative and intentional contexts. Furthermore, they have been shown to imitate selectively. Taken together these results suggest that dogs may perceive others’ actions as goal-directed, however no study has investigated this issue directly. In the current study, adopting an infant habituation-dishabituation paradigm, we investigated whether dogs attribute intentions to an animate (a human) but not an inanimate (a black box) agent interacting with an object. Following an habituation phase in which the agent interacted always with one of two objects, two sets of 3 trials were presented: new side trials (in which the agent interacted with the same object as in the habituation trial but placed in a novel location) and new goal trials (in which the agent interacted with the other object placed in the old location). Dogs showed a similar pattern of response to that shown in infants, looking longer in the new goal than new side trials when they saw the human agent interact with the object. No such difference emerging with the inanimate agent (the black box). Results provide the first evidence that a non-primate species can perceive another individual’s actions as goal-directed. We discuss results in terms of the prevailing mentalisitic and non-mentalistic hypotheses regarding goal-attribution.
Settore M-PSI/01 - Psicologia Generale
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2434/247198
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