Psychobiology student Calysta Kurz ’24 presents poster at national conference

Calysta Kurz ’24 of Oconto, Wisconsin, joined Associate Professor of Psychology Julia Manor in attending the recent Comparative Cognition Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Kurz is majoring in psychobiology. She presented a poster relating to “Relationships Between Empathy Measures in Dogs” that she and other students completed in Manor’s lab.

Other Ripon students contributing to the work were Jacoby Cefalu ’25 of Hartland, Wisconsin; Jake Hargrave ’25 of Ripon, Wisconsin; and Kayln Otzelberger ’24 of Waukesha, Wisconsin.

The citation for their work reads: “The relationship between humans and dogs has made it crucial to understand how human emotions impact dogs and if dogs show empathetic behaviors in return. This study used different measures of empathy including: an empathy survey, response to emotional stimuli, a cognitive bias task (CBT), and contagious yawning, while also measuring the dog’s heart rate variability (HRV). …

“Our findings suggest that dogs are aware of the emotional states of humans and attend more to distress. However, based on the results of the CBT task, dogs may not be personally experiencing the distress, or the CBT may not be a good measure of short-term emotional states of dogs. Some of the data implies that signs of stress may be misread as empathetic-like behaviors.”

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