Konok, V., Nagy, K., Miklosi, A. 2015. How do humans represent the emotions of dogs? The resemblance between the human representation of the canine and the human affective space. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 162, 37-46.
As (critical) anthropomorphism provides a useful hypothesis for looking at animal behavior, people's reports about how they see animals' emotions can provide a start point in the direction of experiment-oriented studies. It has been shown that humans attribute a wide range of emotions to animals. The concept of 'affective space' is often used to model human emotional states in a dimensional way. However, there has been no study carried out on how humans may construct non-human animals' affective space. Our aim was to assess owners' attribution of emotions to their dogs (Canis familiaris), and to construct the affective space for dogs. We used two questionnaires to investigate owners' opinion about (1) the emotions that humans can recognize in dogs and dogs can recognize in humans, and (2) the behavior elements that characterize certain emotions. The first questionnaire revealed that humans are reported to perceive a wide range of emotions in dogs. The reported contingencies between behavior elements and emotions in the second questionnaire were analyzed using correspondence analysis. The resulting two-dimensional affective space showed similarity to those found in human studies: the two dimensions were interpreted as 'activity' and 'assertiveness'. The results suggest that humans represent dogs' emotions in a partly similar way to their own. These similarities could reflect anthropomorphism and/or homologies in the expression of emotional states. The understanding of how humans represent animal emotions could provide both a step in the direction of experimental studies of animal emotions and also an important knowledge about 'folk animal psychology' which shapes the socially constructed concept of animal welfare.