Studies have shown that animals sporting 'puppy dog eyes' have more of a chance of being adopted. In other words, the 'cutest' animals get chosen first! Does this make us prejudiced when adopting a pet?
Adoption: a study of 'puppy dog eyes'
A study by scientists at the University of Portsmouth has shown that our unconscious is acutely receptive to dogs' facial expressions.
For example, it is nigh impossible to resist wanting to snuggle a pooch sporting big, open, and curious eyes coupled with a head tilt! *cue puppy dog eyes
We think it's fair to say we've all experienced this feeling. But does this make us prejudiced when it comes to choosing our new fur friend?
The influence of facial expressions
Modern software was used to analyse the facial expressions of a group of dogs whose expressions became more endearing when a prospective owner passed them. The results from the test showed that the dogs who pulled these 'cute expressions' were most often the first to be looked at and adopted.
However, two unrelated studies have shown that the 'guilty' or 'puppy dog eyes' looks often employed by many dogs is not necessarily an attempt to garner our affection but instead a display of trepidation, the unknown or ultimately fear.
This is not to say that a dog will always attempt this look as you pass it by in a shelter, but it does lend itself to have an effect on us humans; that what we often associate as being given the 'puppy dog eyes' can in fact be a look of trepidation or fear.
This would make sense in a shelter environment where the dogs, while well treated in respectable shelters, are unsure why they are there and may give this look when approached by a human with no prior interaction beforehand. Who is this human? What do they want with me? Will I be safe? And so on.
With that said, however we describe the 'puppy dog eyes look', one thing for sure is that we all tend to find it irresistible. Ultimately, if there is fear and trepidation, what better feeling that gives us to know that we can change it for them?
So, does this make us prejudiced when adopting a pet? As the study showed, it most certainly can!
Do you think your decision was influenced by the 'cuteness factor' of your dog?