Zhang, Y., Yu, J., Zhang, Y. et al. 2023. Emotional contagion and social support in pigs with the negative stimulus. Animals 13(20), 3160.

This study expects to confirm the existence of emotional transmission in pigs from multiple perspectives and to provide theoretical references for improving animal welfare in livestock farming. A group that could directly observe (DO) and a group that could not directly observe (NO) were created based on whether or not their peers observed the treatment process, as the treated pig (TP) was treated with electrical shock and the companion pig (CP) either witnessed the treatment inflicted upon TP or not, and a third group was a control group, in which neither pig was stimulated. The behavioral responses of both the TPs and CPs were recorded to evaluate the emotional reaction. The results found that in both the DO and NO groups, the frequency of TP freezing was significantly higher than that of CP, and CP was significantly higher than that of the control group. Interestingly, although the social interaction responses of the CPs were not similar in the DO and NO groups, there were no significant differences between the behaviors of TPs in the DO and NO groups, except for nose–nose contact and a single approach to the partition, which allowed us to conclude that, whether or not the pigs directly observed the negative treatment, they were able to respond accordingly to fear and provide similar social support to their companions who were treated negatively.

Animal Type