Julia Meyers-Manor publishes further research on dog empathy

Julia Meyers-Manor, associate professor of psychology, has a new publication published in the Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology.

“A shoulder to cry on: Heart rate variability and empathetic behavioral responses to crying and laughing in dogs” is based on work done at Macalester College and has been continuing with students at Ripon College. Mica Rivera ’21 of River Falls, Wisconsin, helped with reliability coding for this paper.

Meyers-Manor says this research shows that dogs respond with comfort to an individual who was crying whether that person was their owner or a complete stranger. The results suggest empathy for the person crying because this attention from the dog did not happen when the owner or stranger were laughing.

The dogs also seemed to show physical signs of distress when the stranger was crying, indicating that the dogs were feeling the distress of the stranger.

So next time you are feeling bad, know that Fido will be there with a shoulder for you to cry on!


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