Animal psychology · Animals

Horses Can “Read” Human Emotions

horses

Horse lovers will not be surprised to learn that a recent study has proven that horses can read human emotions and distinguish between facial expressions of anger and happiness in humans.

The study, undertaken by the Mammal Vocal Commnunication and Cognition Research Group at the University of Sussex (UK), examined how 28 horses reacted to pictures of human facial expressions of anger and happiness. Horses who were shown angry facial expressions exhibited a higher heart rate (something never before measured) in addition to stress-related behaviors. They also tended to look with their left eye, a behavior horses exhibit when they view negative stimuli. In fact, because the right brain hemisphere has evolved to assess threatening situations, most animal species tend to look at negative events through their left eye (the left side of the body is tied to the right side of the brain and vice-versa).

Doctoral student, and study co-leader, Amy Smith¬†explained that the research was the first to show that horses: “can distinguish between positive and negative human facial expressions.”

The paper was published in the February 2016 issue of Biology Letters.

Happily (and right-eyed viewing) yours,

Beau

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