A recent study from researchers in Arizona have discovered that dogs and toddlers show similar levels of social intelligence. Much more so in human children and dogs than in one of their closest relatives the chimpanzee. This research could prove to be revolutionary in the way scientists explore and understand the social evolvement of human kind.
Researchers hid treats and toys and communicated the location of such items to dogs in the study with cues such as looking or pointing. While many dog lovers will stand by their animal being manâs best friend and a member of the family, this research could suggest there is more truth in that statement than previously thought.
Children of two years old showed similar patterns of intelligence to the dogs in the study. Researchers observed how children, dogs and chimpanzees performed on comparable tests designed to measure different types of cognition. Chimps were noted to have performed well on tests involving their physical environments and spatial reasoning but they did not show as much success in tests involving communication skills, such as the ability to follow a gaze or moving finger.
On cooperative communication tasks both dogs and children similarly outperformed the chimps and researchers observed similar patterns of variation of performance between individual dogs and individual children. The past few years have shown huge increase into the study of what makes humans `special` and scientists have declared that basic social communication skills that begin to develop at around nine months old are one of the main sectors that set humans apart from other species. The study has raised a deeper question as to if there really is a distinct kind of social intelligence that can be seen in both dog and human.
One explanation of the similarities between dogs and humans is that the two species may have evolved under similar pressures that provoke a: survival of the friendliest notion, with benefits for more social and cooperative behaviours that chimpanzees may not have been exposed too. Researchers have said that by studying dogs and the domestication of the animal we can learn something about human psychology.
The research of using dogs to aid the understanding of human evolution is a relatively new idea as in the past more closely linked animals such as gorillas and bonobos have been the go too animal for research. There are various forms of intelligence and the intelligence linked to social nature is in a vital stage of exploration by scientists. By looking at the social skills of dogs and how these evolve we are not only giving the world another reason to love dogs, we are learning something crucial about our own psychology.