Dr. Alan McElligott led a study at Queen Mary University of London that determined goats react to human facial expressions. Dr. McElligott found that goats prefer smiling or happy faces to ones that were angry. The study also showed that they also use the left hemisphere of their brains to process emotions.
Previous studies have shown that dogs, cats and horses and many other animals also recognize facial expressions in humans and react to them accordingly. With each study we learn more about the animal kingdom and how alike in many ways all animals are.
Although Dr Alan McElligott is currently based at the University of Roehampton, he led the study at Queen Mary University of London to determine if goats react to human facial expressions. He found that goats would rather interact with people who smile and are happy. The study further showed that goats use the left hemisphere of their brain to react to positive facial expressions.
Anyone who works with goats recognizes that they are very attuned to human body language, but this study shows that goats recognize facial expressions and the emotions that they represent. Past studies have shown that dogs, birds and horses also have this ability.
Goats, horses, birds and dogs represent a wide spectrum of the animal kingdom. It stands to reason that many other animals, both domestic and wild have the same abilities to some degree. The challenge is to devise a way to test a wider range of animals and birds. It is exciting to be able to understand more about the animals that we love and anticipate what future studies will teach us.