Are you a giving person? Your dog may know.
New research published in scientific journal PLOS One suggests dogs can recognize and remember whether a person is generous or selfish. "Adult subjects (both family and shelter dogs) developed a preference for G [generous] over S [selfish]," the study concludes.
Using a group of family dogs, shelter dogs and puppies, researchers directed two rounds of training sessions, followed by a choice session. In the initial training, a person pointed to a bowl filled with roasted chicken and allowed the dog to eat it. This action represented "generosity." Then another person directed the dog to food but ate it themselves before the dog could get to it. This represented "selfishness."
After each session, both the generous and selfish humans held up a food bowl, allowing the dog to choose which person to approach. Both the family and the shelter dogs preferred to approach the person who had been generous.
In a second training, the adult dogs took even longer to approach the selfish humans as they pointed to a food bowl. To the researchers, that further supports the idea that dogs can recall and respond to generosity.
The researchers said everyday contact with humans didn't affect the study results but overall years of experience with humans did.
Shelter dogs and puppies differed a bit from family dogs. While the family dogs were good at picking up human cues, like pointing, sheltered dogs were less practiced. Shelter dogs could still differentiate between generous and selfish humans, though, the study found.
Puppies weren't able to differentiate between who was generous or selfish at all. Perhaps dogs must learn to be discerning, researchers speculate, or perhaps these pups hadn't fully developed a capacity for communication.
Overall, though, the findings suggest adult dogs can accurately distinguish between behaviors and associate those behaviors with the people who perform them. As hiring managers do, they seem to prefer people to be likeable.
Generosity won't just help you win the loyalty of dogs. It's a mindset some experts advise you to adopt if you want to get rich. "Most millionaires believe in the law of sowing and reaping," says Keith Cameron Smith, author of "The Top 10 Distinctions Between Millionaires and the Middle Class." "They see money as a seed.
"Millionaires know that if they are generous, they will receive more in return."
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