Horses remember the facial expression of a person in the photo: an unusual experiment
Scientists have proven that horses not only read people's emotions, but also remember what facial expression you had during your last meeting: gloomy or joyful. And react accordingly.
Leanne Proups of the University of Portsmouth (United Kingdom) and her colleagues conducted an interesting study in 2016 and proved that horses react differently to photographs of people depending on whether the person is smiling or looking angry. And later they conducted another study aimed at finding out whether horses can remember people and whether the horse’s reaction to a person depends on what emotions this person showed when he saw him for the last time.
First of all, scientists showed horses photos of a man. In the photographs, a person showed either joy or anger. A few hours later, the person from the photo personally approached the horse, and the expression on his face at that moment was neutral.
In the photo: a horse-participant in the experiment and a man who shows a neutral facial expression
The control group of horses saw some people in the photo, and others live.
It is also important that the people who visited the horses themselves did not know which of their photographs the horses had seen before. This was done so that people would not unconsciously tell the horses how to react to them using micromotion, because the horses are very sensitive to such prompts.
It turned out that the horses perfectly remember the expression on the face of a person seen in the photograph.
Horses prefer to look at threatening and negative stimuli with their left eye, and at positive stimuli with their right eye. During the study, when the horses saw a man who had previously frowned in the photograph, they examined him with his left eye. In addition, horses in this situation showed signs of stress, for example, scratched their feet on the floor or sniffed noisily. And in contrast, when the horses saw a man who had previously smiled in a photograph, they looked at him with their right eye.
Many other animals demonstrate the ability to remember the facial expressions of humans, including sheep and fish. And the Orons have been cherishing the grudge against people who have treated them badly for years, moreover, they are inciting other ravens to frustrate their enemies.
Horses, however, as it turned out as a result of this study, can make up an opinion about a person, not only seeing him live, but also exclusively from a photograph. This is something that has not yet been sufficiently studied in animals.
The horses themselves have very expressive facial expressions, so it is logical that they pay attention to the facial expression of a person. And given how long the horses have lived near us, it is not surprising that they have learned to recognize what this or that facial expression means.
The study is fully published in the journal CurrentBiology, DOI: 10.1016 / j.cub.2018.03.03.035