Dogs Will Ignore Your Lousy Suggestions

As opposed to actual humans, who blindly follow
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 28, 2016 9:01 AM CDT
Updated Oct 2, 2016 7:03 AM CDT
Dogs Will Ignore Your Lousy Suggestions
Forget the advice. Just get the ball.   (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

Dogs might be better than humans at ignoring bad advice, suggests a new study out of Yale. In the experiment, researchers trained dogs to get a treat out of a box by moving a lever and then lifting the lid. Then they left the dogs on their own, and a significant number of them soon figured out the truth: There was no need to move that lever; they merely needed to lift the lid and get their treat. That's interesting in and of itself, notes a post at New York, but it's far more interesting when contrasted with a similar experiment conducted several years ago with kids. In that one, the human subjects went right on pulling that lever, because they had been instructed to do so.

“Humans often fall prey to the bad advice of others,” says lead author Laurie Santos of Yale's Canine Cognition Center in a release. “Children tend to copy all of a teacher’s actions, regardless of whether they are necessary or not.” The dogs, however, were all about ruthless efficiency. Don't be too hard on the humans, though: The researchers behind the study in Development Science say it's vital kids follow seemingly useless commands. As Time explains, "for a species with as elaborate a social system as ours, efficiency in learning is not necessarily a good thing." For instance, a child who learns to wash his hands before eating is delaying his meal, but for good reason. (Dogs seem to be clued in to false praise as well.)

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