It turns out dogs dislike unfairness and injustice just as much as we do, and they are pretty good at recognizing this as well. A new study finds that dogs and even wild wolves react to inequity (the lack of fairness or justice) the same way humans and primates do.
In this research, scientists observed how canines demonstrated a refusal to cooperate in an experiment when only one partner received a treat reward, or when they themselves received a reward of lower quality, showing their awareness of the situation.
Fascinatingly, this sensitivity is not likely to be linked to domestication – rather, it is thought to be linked to a shared ancestor among man and dog. This was determined based on the fact that the sensitivity is as strong in wolves as it is in domestic dogs.
The research was conducted by comparative psychologists at the Messerli Research Institute of the University of Veterinary Medicine, located in Vienna. The results were published in the Current Biology journal.
Recognizing unfair treatment is an important social skill in humans. It is specifically significant for cooperation with others. Non-humans primates also embrace this trait.
Until now, recognition of inequity has not been studied in other species. But other studies conducted with dogs concluded that canines are at least indicative of “inequity aversion” (disliking injustice). For example, dogs showed that they did not like when they didn’t get food but their partners did.
Until now, this skill has been assumed to be an adaptation on the part of domesticated dogs. In other words, scientists believed dogs were learning this behavior from the humans who kept…