Guilt in dogs? Pride in horses?
If scientists say so, but where's the solid evidence? The Discovery news site reports new research from England that purports to have found evidence of jealousy in dogs based on 1,000 "observations" from dog owners who self-reported their observations of their canine green-eyed monsters.
Whether animals have emotions is a hotly debatable topic, and unfortunately this research doesn't add much to further the debate. It doesn't meet my criteria of solid evidence - i.e. it isn't objective. Self-report is prone to bias. People project how they would feel in any given situation to their four-legged companions. I am not knocking anthropomorphism as a technique for generating theories of animal behavior and testable hypotheses, but as science, this research appears to be weak.
I love the idea (!) and it is nice to see someone making an effort to accumulate a thousand data points of anecdotal evidence that all point in the same direction. My grandma and I are not alone in having little green-eyed monsters who flip out when they are not the ones being petted or fed a treat.
I would like to see this research replicated with objective observers in an experimental setting.
One of the first things the researchers would have to do is define what constitutes jealous behavior in dogs. Next, I'd want to know in what situations we can expect to observe jealousy.
How would you define it, Daphne? Other dog owners out there who can chime in?
That little monster on the right might be jealous of his larger and younger sister on the left, but how am I to know for sure? That hint of utter contempt on his face?!