Dogs Feel Wrong Physics | Science and life

We sense some simple physical patterns intuitively from a very early age. For example, even young children know that if a cup is dropped from their hands, it will fall down – and they will be very surprised if the cup suddenly starts to take off slowly.

Not only humans, but, for example, chimpanzees and dogs have intuitive ideas about the physics of the surrounding world. About dogs in a recent article in Biology Letters written by the staff of the University of Vienna. They chose fourteen dogs, which were first taught to sit in one position, resting their heads on a special pillow. In this position, it was convenient to monitor the pupils of the dogs, which indicated their emotions.

Then a screen was placed in front of the dogs, and a video was shown on the screen: two balls rolling towards each other. The balls collided, and then one stopped, and the other rolled back – all in accordance with the usual mechanics. After the dogs had seen enough of the colliding balls, they were shown a second video, in which the first ball stopped before it met the second, and the second suddenly began to roll back without any collision. The dogs were surprised: firstly, they looked at the irregular balls longer than usual, and secondly, their pupils dilated. Both a long look and dilated pupils are considered signs of surprise. These same signs are used, for example, when they study the psychology of young children who cannot yet speak, or adults, when they want to know some unconscious reactions (and how much these reactions differ from what people say).

In general, the authors of the work conclude that dogs are able to distinguish correct physics from incorrect ones. By the way, relatively recently – last year – something similar was told about cats, who were embarrassed that the same voice was heard almost simultaneously from different corners of the room, as if the owner of the voice could teleport. The cats, according to the authors of that work, did not believe in teleportation.

Source: Автономная некоммерческая организация "Редакция журнала «Наука и жизнь»" by

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