The Huron University College Journal of Learning and Motivation


Candice Dwyer


Eight dogs were selected as the subjects in a study to determine i f dogs could detect deceptive human cues and consequently ignore them. More specifically, if dogs would ignore when a human dishonestly cued them towards a bucket with no food in favour of a bucket that contained food. Dogs have been shown to actually listen to deceptive human cues when food was hidden from them rather than ignore deceptive cues (Petter, Musolino, Roberts, & Cole, 2009). However, this study utilized transparent food containers to ensure the dog was able to visually detect where the food was correctly located. Hence, this study hypothesizes that even when the dog gets dishonestly cued to an empty bucket, the dog will now be more likely to ignore deceptive human cues in favour of a bucket that obviously contains food. This is presumably because in this situation, unlike studies that preceded it, the dog can blatantly see the food is not in the same location that the human cue directed them. Although, in contrast to the hypothesis, it was shown that dogs did not show a preference for the transparent bucket that contained food over the empty bucket the experimenter cued them to. While dogs approached the truthful human cue almost 100% of the time, dogs were shown to approach the deceptive human cue in approximately equal proportions to a non-cued transparent bucket that contained a visible food reward. Thus, dogs do not significantly more than chance ignore deceptive human cues, and therefore cannot necessarily detect human deception.

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