Study: Dogs Don't Experience Guilt - Fox 2 News Headlines

Study: Dogs Don't Experience Guilt

Posted: Updated:
PHILADELPHIA -

If man's best friend misbehaves, pet owners would like to think their dogs experience a little bit of guilt. But a new study shows that they do not feel guilt at all.

This is sparking controversy among dog owners. Some insist that their beloved canines do, in fact, feel emotions regarding the consequences of their actions. They call it the guilty look.

But one woman who calls herself a K9 scientist says that dogs have a guilty look only if they're scolded by their owner, not if they simply do something wrong.

"The guilty look does not signify a knowledge of a misdeed," said Julie Hect, of the Barnard College Dog Cognition Lab in New York City. "We found that the dog's behavior is not dependent on what the dog did, but what the owner did."

In other words, they don't know that their actions are wrong, only that it will bring a negative reaction from their owners. The 2009 study by Barnard College supports her point. In that study, dogs gave the guilty look whenever they were scolded, whether they actually misbehaved or not.

However, pet owners are not convinced by the study.

"I completely disagree with that. [My dog] knows when he's done wrong. He will go as so far to punish himself and put himself in his crate," said dog owner Maria Peters.

Experts distinguish between primary motions like joy and fear and secondary emotions like pride and guilt. Dogs can only feel the primary emotions. So when he gives that guilty look, it's not because he feels guilty, but because he think's the owner's mad and feels fear.

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • VIDEO: Man Strikes Woman On SEPTA Trolley

    VIDEO: Man Strikes Woman On SEPTA Trolley

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 11:01 AM EDT2014-07-29 15:01:04 GMT

    The woman bumped into an unknown male who was standing in the doorway when the suspect threw a cup at her then followed her off the trolley striking her one time with a closed fist.

    The woman bumped into an unknown male who was standing in the doorway when the suspect threw a cup at her then followed her off the trolley striking her one time with a closed fist.

  • Del. shop owner loses First Amendment fight

    Del. shop owner loses First Amendment fight

    A Delaware shop owner has lost his free speech fight over the decor of a beach store.
    A Delaware shop owner has lost his free speech fight over the decor of a beach store.
  • Fox Sports: Phillies' Hamels Available In Trade Talks

    Fox Sports: Phillies' Hamels Available In Trade Talks

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 7:39 AM EDT2014-07-29 11:39:48 GMT

    There are now only two days left until the Major League Baseball trade deadline. FOXSports.com is reporting that the Phillies have made pitcher Cole Hamels available.

    There are now only two days left until the Major League Baseball trade deadline. FOXSports.com is reporting that the Phillies have made pitcher Cole Hamels available.

Powered by WorldNow

WJBK-TV | Fox 2
16550 West Nine Mile Rd.
Southfield, MI 48075

Main Station: (248) 557-2000
Newsroom: (248) 552-5103

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices