dog morality judge

Calling a dog “man’s best friend” might be the most clichéd thing ever. However, new results from science might prove this over-used phrase as being at least partially true.

According to a new study, dogs are able to judge the morality of people. This is also known as “dogs know when you’re being a dick,” the headline (we read it for the science articles, we swear) wound up using in a piece about this research. Via that article, here’s how this conclusion came to be.

To test the theory, researchers tested whether dogs preferred people who helped their owners above those who refused. Using actors, each owner tried to open a container. The owner then presented it to an actor who either helped or refused. The other actor stood by passively in both scenarios. Both actors then offered the dogs a reward, allowing the pooch to choose between them. Results found that the dogs had no preference in accepting a reward when the first actor had helped their owner, but were much more likely to choose the passive actor if the first one refused to help.

Moral of the story: be nice to someone if a dog’s around. The four-legged friend will likely notice, and will treat you well or badly based on your behavior. It’s just one more moral compass to live by when going about your daily life. And while they’re good dogs, Brent, we can’t say the same about all humans.


About Ryan Williamson

Ryan is a recent graduate of the University of Missouri and has recently returned to his Minnesota roots. He previously has worked for the Columbia Missourian, KFAN radio in Minneapolis and Feel free to email me at rwilliamson29 AT Gmail dot com.