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Animals can experience emotions like people can… But what about jealousy?

Heather Suhr
Animals can experience emotions like people can… But what about jealousy?
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The weekend is coming up and a long time friend that you haven’t seen since childhood is coming to visit, you feel excited or anxious. It’s the end of the day from work and you feel relief. A close friend or relative passed away, you feel grief.

These are some example of emotions coming from the small almond shaped component found deep in our brain’s medial temporal lobe functions, called the amygdala. Because of this, as humans, we are capable to experience a wide array of emotions. It is found that if the size of the amygdala changes; it can produce some negative symptoms. (1)

There has been a debate going on over the past years whether or not animals do experience emotions like humans. Some people agree, but some do not.

Animals have similar hardwires in their brains as humans do.

Many proponents say the portion of the brain that get fired up, the amygdala, people and animals have similar outcomes. Our brains are hardwired the same way as an animal’s, so the theory is that it makes complete sense that animals can experience emotions just like people. (2)

To what extent can animals experience emotions? When it comes to sadness, elephants, sea lions, geese, monkeys, and moose all appear to be hit hard by the death of the loved one. On the brighter side, dolphins, chimpanzees, elk, rats, and multitude of mammals and birds that engage in play, appear extremely happy. (3)

Studies conducted on animal’s emotional responses.

A study done by the Integrative and Comparative Biology has evaluated the differences between the emotional responses between animals and humans. They have found that animals do experience emotions at varying levels. (4)

Another study was done to evaluate if humans can detect an animal’s facial expression. This study discovered that a good majority of people could detect the facial expression of a dog pretty accurately. Dr. Tina Bloom, a psychologist, states, “We have shown that humans are also able to accurately, if not perfectly, identify at least one dog’s facial expressions.” (5)

How about jealousy?

Christine Harris, an emotional researcher from the University of California, conducted a study to determine animal’s jealousy. According to her study, dogs do get jealous! The test was set up when researchers brought in 36 dogs in their owner’s home and videotaped the dogs as their owners ignored them for three different items: a stuffed animated dog that barked and wagged, a jack-o’-lantern, and a pop-up children’s book that played melodies. (6)

Which one did the dogs flipped out over?

If you thought the stuffed dog, you are correct! The dogs were twice as likely to push or touch their owner when the owner was playing with the stuffed dog compared to the other two items. Additionally, one-third of the dogs tried to nudge their way to the owner. A quarter of them snapped at the fake dog.

Give your pets the loving care that they desire 🙂

Sources for this article include:

(1) www.sciencedaily.com
(2) www.thebark.com
(3) animals.howstuffworks.com
(4) icb.oxfordjournals.org
(5) www.sciencedirect.com
(6) www.newsledge.com

Image source: https://flic.kr/p/8theud

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