Dog study suggests jealousy hardwired in brain
New research published in the journal PLOS One suggests that jealous behavior reaches beyond romantic relationships and actually may be hardwired into our brains as a way to protect those we care about from outside threats.
Researchers from the University of California – San Diego, conducted a series of tests on 36 dogs. The dogs’ owners were required to ignore their pet and focus their attention on either a stuffed, animated dog that barked, whined and wagged its tail or a jack-o’-lantern pail. Owners were asked to treat each object as if it were a dog. They were required to pet them and talk to them as they would to their real dog. In another test, the dog owners were asked to read a melodic pop-up book aloud, while again ignoring their dogs. The tests were videotaped and independent raters were used to assess any aggressive, disruptive or attention-seeking behaviors the dogs demonstrated.
The results showed that that the majority of the dogs pushed or touched the owner when their attention was focused on the stuffed dog, while only 42 percent demonstrated this behavior when their owner focused on the jack-o-lantern pail and only 22 percent did this when the owners read the pop-up book. In addition, the dogs attempted to push themselves between their owner and the stuffed dog and some even snapped at the stuffed dog.
The researchers note that while jealous behavior was exhibited by the dogs, they were also seeking to break up the connection between the owner and the “rival” stuffed animal, which suggests that they wanted to protect an important social relationship.