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Title: Domesticated Dogs’ (Canis familiaris) Response to Dishonest Human Points
Authors: Kundey, Shannon M.A.
De Los Reyes, Andres
Arbuthnot, Jessica
Allen, Rebecca
Coshun, Ariel
Molina, Sabrina
Royer, Erica
Type: Article
Keywords: Animal cognition
Issue Date: 2010
Series/Report no.: International Journal of Comparative Psychology;
Abstract: Pointing is a conventional communicative gesture used by humans to direct others’ attention to an environmental feature. Several researchers have argued that pointing becomes so ingrained for humans from a young age that children often have difficulty interpreting the gesture in a novel way. Recent research suggests domestic dogs are also sensitive to human gestures (including points) and proficient in recognizing and acting on humans’ visual attention. We explored the role of pointing in dogs’ choice behavior and whether dogs, like human children, have difficulty interpreting the gesture novelly. In Experiment 1, we explored whether dogs would differentially follow a static human point when it was administered by a familiar or unfamiliar individual and that individual indicated or failed to indicate the correct location of a food reward. The results indicated dogs chose the container specified by the demonstrators’ point in the honest and dishonest condition. Demonstrator familiarity did not alter performance. In Experiment 2, we compared dogs’ propensity to follow a static point versus other cues (momentary point, standing location) when the cue never indicated the correct location of a food reward, which was either visible or hidden during choice. The results suggested dogs did not inhibit their approach to a location indicated by a deceptive static point even when the location of a reward was visibly available during choice. However, dogs used a deceptive momentary point or standing location to locate food in both visible and hidden trials. In Experiment 3, we explored if dogs could overcome their tendency to follow a deceptive static point. These results indicated dogs learned to inhibit their approach to a deceptive static point when the reward was visible during choice. However, when information about the reward’s location was later hidden, dogs reverted to following the demonstrator’s static point.
Description: We would like to thank Sherry McClurkin, Robin Reutten, and Chelsea Taglang for their assistance in data collection and participant recruitment for this study. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Shannon M.A. Kundey at Hood College, Department of Psychology, 401 Rosemont Avenue, Room ROS 27, Frederick, MD 21701, U.S.A. (
Appears in Collections:Psychology Research Works

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