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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Fairness

woo!

I read this article today about how some human scientists did this big study on whether or not dogs could tell if something was fair. Here's what they did. They'd tell a dog to do something stupid like shake hands with the human and then if that dog did that, then the dog would get a treat. Eventually the scientist would pick on one dog and not give that dog a treat when he (or she) did the stupid trick. The scientists were all impressed that the non-treat-recipient dog would wander away and not participate in the experience.

There was a quote in the article that I thought was really stupid. (I put the emphasis on the most stupid part.)

One thing that did surprise the researchers was that—unlike primates—the dogs didn't seem to care whether the reward was sausage or bread.

Possibly, they suggested, the presence of a reward was so important it obscured any preference. Other possibilities, they said, are that daily training with their owners overrides a preference, or that the social condition of working next to a partner increased their motivation regardless of which reward they got.

And the dogs never rejected the food, something that primates had done when they thought the reward was unfair.

The dogs, the researchers said, "were not willing to pay a cost by rejecting unfair offers."

Clive Wynne, an associate professor in the psychology department of the University of Florida, isn't so sure the experiment measures the animals reaction to fairness.

"What it means is individuals are responding negatively to being treated less well," he said in a telephone interview.


Isn't this what "fair" means?

There was one part of the article that I like a lot. I am emphasizing my most favorite part here:

Those that refused at the start—and one border collie that insisted on trying to herd other dogs—were removed. That left 29 dogs to be tested in varying pairs.

11 comments:

Tracey and Huffle said...

Are you saying something about border collies?

Huffle Mawson, Honorary Husky and Explorer Cat

The Thundering Herd said...

As a real test, they should have included "treats" such as paper, cardboard, bugs . . . oh, wait a minute, we would have eaten all of that too.

Khyra The Siberian Husky said...

More khoins spent to prove stoopid stuff?

Hugz&Khysses,
Khyra
PeeEssWoo: Once again, those border khollies just have to show off!

Kathryn and Ari said...

This story got a big "DUH?" from us. Dogs do stupid tricks for treats? And get mad when other dogs get more treats? We needed a scientific study to confirm this?!?

PS- LOVE the album covers. Keep 'em coming!

Kodak the Eskie said...

What, border collies trying to herd? What's up with that?

Hugs, Kodak

Marigold said...

Let's talk about 'fair'. Is it fair that no goats were included in any of these studies? At any rate, I would have been all for excluding that herding dog as well. The only reason The Mighty Quinn is tolerated around here is that he has wisely chosen to herd 'other' prey. Good dog. I think that's fair, don't you?

Stella Louella said...

Hey, Uncle Tubey! I just wanted to let you know that I finished my championship this past weekend! I won a 3 point major with Lisa handling me in the ring!
Have fun in the snow... Stella and I are having a blast!
Love,
Nephew Eddie
AKA Champion D'Azul's On the Dark Side

Shmoo said...

What's wrong with bread? I like bread! I'd rather have bread, a big loaf of bread, bread is tasty.

Sammy

Pacco de Mongrel said...

that was an interesting piece of article...

if mum don't hand me treats after i did some tricks, i will give her my evil stare

The Daily Echo said...

Oh yeah - clearly they took breed specifics into consideration in this study.
ECHO

Cyber-sibes said...

What?!? No yappitizers?

Star & Jack a-roo