Human-Animal Communication

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Human-Animal Interactions, Animal Behaviour and Emotion".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2021) | Viewed by 104326

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie e Ambientali - Produzione, Territorio, Agroenergia, Università degli Studi di Milano, Via Celoria 2, 20133 Milano, Italy
Interests: animal welfare; animal behaviour; small ruminants; cattle; human-animal relationship; animal communication; positive indicators; environmental enrichment

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Thousands of years of domestication have significantly changed the behaviour of large and small domestic animals. During this process non-human animals adapted to the human environment, facing new challenges, and losing old traits that were critical for surviving in the wild. We suppose that domesticated species may have acquired social skills to interact with humans and some species are known to be sensitive to human communicative cues.

The way humans communicate with other humans is mainly by means of voice (language) and postures (body language). And, this is the same way humans communicate with animals. On the other side, animals are known to use a wider set of signals to communicate with other animals, including vocalizations, smells, body language and other behaviours. Are these signals used to communicate also with humans? How did the communication from animals to humans evolve due to this close relationship? Do animals perceive our emotions and how do they understand us? And, on the other hand, did humans improve their ability to understand animals?

An effective communication can lead to a better management of domestic animals, both in farm situations, or at home or shelter for pet animals. Gathering information on animals’ communication is becoming more important also in veterinary practice, offering the possibility of early detection of many diseases that can be promptly controlled or cured. Furthermore, understanding how animals communicate their needs or emotions may be a way to improve their welfare, preventing them from unnecessary suffering or providing them with an appropriate environment.

This Special Issue is interested in both reviews and research papers on all aspects of human-animal communication, from both human and animals (farmed and pet) point of view. It is also interested in understanding how empathy can affect the ability of humans to interpret communication cues. Papers can also present results on automatic systems used to record vocalizations or body language and facial expressions, and how these systems can help humans to understand animals or, on the contrary, reduce their ability to connect with animals.

Dr. Monica Battini
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Animals is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • human-animal communication
  • vocalizations
  • body language
  • posture
  • gesture
  • facial expressions
  • gaze
  • communication cues
  • emotions
  • animal welfare
  • empathy
  • automatic systems
  • pain
  • fear
  • happiness

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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9 pages, 408 KiB  
Article
A Preliminary Investigation of Interspecific Chemosensory Communication of Emotions: Can Humans (Homo sapiens) Recognise Fear- and Non-Fear Body Odour from Horses (Equus ferus caballus)
by Agnieszka Sabiniewicz, Michał Białek, Karolina Tarnowska, Robert Świątek, Małgorzata Dobrowolska and Piotr Sorokowski
Animals 2021, 11(12), 3499; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11123499 - 08 Dec 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2477
Abstract
Mammalian body odour conveys cues about an individual’s emotional state that can be recognised by conspecifics. Thus far, little attention has been paid to interspecific odour communication of emotions, and no studies have examined whether humans are able to recognise animal emotions from [...] Read more.
Mammalian body odour conveys cues about an individual’s emotional state that can be recognised by conspecifics. Thus far, little attention has been paid to interspecific odour communication of emotions, and no studies have examined whether humans are able to recognise animal emotions from body odour. Thus, the aim of the present study was to address this question. Body odour samples were collected from 16 two-year-old thoroughbred horses in fear and non-fear situations, respectively. The horse odour samples were then assessed by 73 human odour raters. We found that humans, as a group, were able to correctly assign whether horse odour samples were collected under a fear- or a non-fear condition, respectively. Furthermore, they perceived the body odour of horses collected under the fear condition as more intense, compared with the non-fear condition. An open question remains, which is whether humans could simply distinguish between little versus much sweat and between high intensity versus low intensity or were able to recognise horses’ fear and non-fear emotions. These results appear to fit the notion that the ability to recognise emotions in other species may present an advantage to both the sender and the receiver of emotional cues, particularly in the interaction between humans and domesticated animals. To conclude, the present results indicate that olfaction might contribute to the human recognition of horse emotions. However, these results should be addressed with caution in light of the study’s limitations and only viewed as exploratory for future studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human-Animal Communication)
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12 pages, 2055 KiB  
Article
Is There a “Right” Side of Communicating Friendship? Lateralization of Social Interactions in Zoo Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus)
by Marzia Baldachini, Barbara Regaiolli, Miquel Llorente, David Riba and Caterina Spiezio
Animals 2021, 11(11), 3288; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11113288 - 17 Nov 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1525
Abstract
Social laterality in non-human primates has started to attract attention in recent years. The positioning of individuals during social interactions could possibly suggest the nature of a relationship and the social ranking of the subjects involved. The subjects of the present study were [...] Read more.
Social laterality in non-human primates has started to attract attention in recent years. The positioning of individuals during social interactions could possibly suggest the nature of a relationship and the social ranking of the subjects involved. The subjects of the present study were 12 adult Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus) housed in a zoological garden. We carried out fourteen 210-min video-recorded sessions and we used a focal animal sampling method to collect the position of the subjects during different social interactions. Data on the position of each macaque during three types of social interactions were collected (approach, proximity and affiliative contacts). Moreover, we focused on the outcomes of dyadic agonistic encounters to build the hierarchy of the colony. For each social interaction, two conditions were considered: the side preference (being kept on the left or on the right) and the sagittal preference (being kept in front or on the rear). Bouts of preference of different positions were collected for different social interactions (approach, proximity and contacts). No group-level side preferences were found for any social interaction, suggesting that both hemispheres might be complemental and balance each other during intraspecific communication. For the sagittal preference, we found a group-level bias for proximity, with macaques being kept in front rather than on the rear by close conspecifics. This might be due to the need to detect emotions and intentions of conspecifics. Moreover, high-ranking individuals are kept more frontally than on the rear when in proximity with other macaques. More studies are needed to better investigate social laterality, possibly distinguishing more categories of social interaction, and detecting other variables that might influence the positioning preferences. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human-Animal Communication)
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19 pages, 266 KiB  
Article
Who Is Pulling the Leash? Effects of Human Gender and Dog Sex on Human–Dog Dyads When Walking On-Leash
by Hao-Yu Shih, Mandy B. A. Paterson, Fillipe Georgiou, Nancy A. Pachana and Clive J. C. Phillips
Animals 2020, 10(10), 1894; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10101894 - 16 Oct 2020
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 86015
Abstract
Previous studies have indicated that human gender and canine sex influences human–dog interactions. However, the majority of studies have considered the interaction when dogs were off-leash and the behavioural interactions when dogs are walked on a leash have not been addressed. This study [...] Read more.
Previous studies have indicated that human gender and canine sex influences human–dog interactions. However, the majority of studies have considered the interaction when dogs were off-leash and the behavioural interactions when dogs are walked on a leash have not been addressed. This study investigated human–dog interactions when shelter volunteers take shelter dogs for an on-leash walk. Video records were made of 370 walks, involving 74 volunteers and 111 shelter dogs, and a leash tension meter was used to determine the pull strength of dogs and walkers. Human gender and canine sex had dyadic effects during the walk. Male dogs tended to pull more frequently and created increased leash tensions. Dogs displayed more stress related behaviours when interacting with men than women, with the signs being spending less time holding the tail in the high position, and more frequent gazing and lip-licking behaviours. Finally, there was a greater pre-disposition in women to use verbal commands, and language typically used with babies, while men were more inclined to have physical contact with dogs. This study’s results may be used to match shelter dogs with appropriate men and women volunteers for walking exercise of the dog, and to improve potential dog socialisation efforts by shelters. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human-Animal Communication)

Review

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33 pages, 857 KiB  
Review
Humans and Goats: Improving Knowledge for a Better Relationship
by Stefania Celozzi, Monica Battini, Emanuela Prato-Previde and Silvana Mattiello
Animals 2022, 12(6), 774; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12060774 - 18 Mar 2022
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 5502
Abstract
There is consensus that the quality of the human–animal relationship (HAR) is relevant to guarantee appropriate levels of animal welfare. Given the impact that HAR may have on both goats and human beings, the aim of the present review is to elucidate: (1) [...] Read more.
There is consensus that the quality of the human–animal relationship (HAR) is relevant to guarantee appropriate levels of animal welfare. Given the impact that HAR may have on both goats and human beings, the aim of the present review is to elucidate: (1) how humans and goats communicate; (2) which are the factors affecting human–goat interactions; (3) how we can measure the quality of this relationship. The systematic review led to the selection of 58 relevant articles. Effective human–goat communication takes place by means of visual, tactile and auditory stimuli and, to a less extent, via olfactory and gustative stimuli. Goats have well-developed socio-cognitive abilities and rely on humans to get relevant information. A deep knowledge of goats’ communication means and socio-cognitive abilities may greatly help improving the human–goat relationship. Management practices (e.g., rearing methods, amount and quality of interactions), as well as genetic selection for suitable individual traits, may contribute to improving HAR. Several measures to assess the quality of HAR have been validated, including avoidance in the pen and at the feeding rack and latency to first contact. Finally, farmers’ attitudes and empathy with goats, as well as their motivation to work with animals, should be improved through appropriate training. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human-Animal Communication)
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Other

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2 pages, 190 KiB  
Reply
Reply to Semin et al. Can Humans Discriminate Horse ‘Fear’ Chemosignals from Control Chemosignals? Comment on “Sabiniewicz et al. A Preliminary Investigation of Interspecific Chemosensory Communication of Emotions: Can Humans (Homo sapiens) Recognise Fear- and Non-Fear Body Odour from Horses (Equus ferus caballus). Animals 2021, 11, 3499”
by Agnieszka Sabiniewicz, Michał Białek, Karolina Tarnowska, Robert Świątek, Małgorzata Dobrowolska and Piotr Sorokowski
Animals 2022, 12(12), 1498; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12121498 - 09 Jun 2022
Viewed by 1111
Abstract
Whereas several recent studies demonstrated that some animal species are able to recognize human emotions based on information from body odor [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human-Animal Communication)
4 pages, 209 KiB  
Comment
Can Humans Discriminate Horse ‘Fear’ Chemosignals from Control Chemosignals? Comment on Sabiniewicz et al. A Preliminary Investigation of Interspecific Chemosensory Communication of Emotions: Can Humans (Homo sapiens) Recognise Fear- and Non-Fear Body Odour from Horses (Equus ferus caballus). Animals 2021, 11, 3499
by Gün R. Semin, Nuno Gomes, Biagio D’Aniello and Agnieszka Sabiniewicz
Animals 2022, 12(12), 1489; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12121489 - 08 Jun 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1688
Abstract
We illustrate the problematic nature of different assumptions guiding the examination of whether humans can detect the source of fear chemosignals (i.e., body odors) emitted by horses—a research question examined in an article recently published in Animals. A central issue is that [...] Read more.
We illustrate the problematic nature of different assumptions guiding the examination of whether humans can detect the source of fear chemosignals (i.e., body odors) emitted by horses—a research question examined in an article recently published in Animals. A central issue is that the formulation of the question itself contains the answer to it. In this paper, we parse the problematic assumptions on which the analysis and methodology rely, leading to conclusions that are difficult to support. These assumptions constitute examples of methodological problems that should be avoided in research with animals and odors. The unique aspect of this paper is that it is a collaborative product, including the original contributor, in the pursuit of transparency in science. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human-Animal Communication)
12 pages, 255 KiB  
Brief Report
Working like a Dog: Exploring the Role of a Therapy Dog in Clinical Exercise Physiology Practice
by Melainie Cameron, Emily Hewitt, Elizabeth Hollitt, Jacqueline Wood and Samantha Brown
Animals 2022, 12(10), 1237; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12101237 - 11 May 2022
Viewed by 2280
Abstract
Therapy animals in clinical settings are purported to reduce patients’ anxiety, decrease agitated behaviour, serve as social mediators, enhance the social atmosphere, and increase patients’ openness towards practitioners. A therapy dog worked alongside her exercise physiologist handler for approximately 1 day/week in a [...] Read more.
Therapy animals in clinical settings are purported to reduce patients’ anxiety, decrease agitated behaviour, serve as social mediators, enhance the social atmosphere, and increase patients’ openness towards practitioners. A therapy dog worked alongside her exercise physiologist handler for approximately 1 day/week in a university clinic. The canine and handler functioned as a team, while the handler simultaneously undertook supervision of students. The clinic was open 24 h/week, and no other therapeutic animal was present for any part of the week. We explored, via surveys and interviews, human responses to the dog. The survey comprised 15 statement items regarding the canine’s role, behaviour, and acceptability in the clinic, ranked from strongly disagree (−2) to strongly agree (2), followed by an open item inviting participants to follow up interviews. Eleven (11) clinical clients and seven (7) students completed the survey. One client had not encountered the canine; these data were excluded. Four (4) participants from the client sample provided subsequent telephone interviews. All participants identified the canine as well-behaved; no participants considered that she detracted from their exercise sessions. Most participants were equivocal to statements regarding social lubrication and openness to practitioners; only three clients and two students identified that they felt more willing to share health information; three students identified that they felt they could confide more in the canine than in the practitioner. Interviewees’ reports were similarly favourable, reinforcing the information obtained from the surveys. Interview transcripts were subject to thematic analysis, which focussed around four key themes: (1) the canine’s good behaviour, (2) clients giving permission, and the canine as both (3) a pleasant distraction from the effort of exercise, and (4) nice to have. A therapy dog may enhance some aspects of exercise physiology service delivery. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human-Animal Communication)
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