Just to let you guys know that I am fine with my theories being wrong, I was thinking about all this work we have done on dog emotion. Well, I made the statement that if dogs did not have the same emotions as we do there would be emotional states we experience that they do not. As I was going through the list of known emotional states I stumbled onto embarrassment. Those of you who know me realize that I am not a frequent suffer of this condition even though in some situations I should be 🙂
I am not convinced that dogs experience embarrassment. This may mean simply, that dogs have all the “basic” emotions that we do, Happy, Sad, and fear to name the truly core emotions, but we have evolved emotions beyond the basics that dogs do not have. To answer this question is not as simple as defining say, Happy or Sad. Embarrassment seems to based on social norms and even with-in humans “norms” are defined by culture and we don’t want to get into that. The only similar emotional state that I have witnessed in a dog is that of guilt. They know when they have done something wrong. Now is it guilt as we experience guilt … we are still working on it.
Guilt would have a definite evolutionary advantage in that it is a definite method of communicating to the group that you know you broke the rules. This allows for a group to function as a group. Something for you guys to consider. Embarrassment varies greatly so, is it a more defined kind of guilt? or is it our cognitive over complication of a core or basic emotional state. I am man enough to admit that far more research is necessary. However, I prefer to overestimate things because when you underestimate bad things happen. So, don’t underestimate your dog.
Interesting Post I came across while pondering the demise of my theory. Luckily we are still in the fight.
Motley Cares 🙂
Well, you guys know how I like to go back to the basics when things go FUBAR and like a dog with a bone, just couldn’t let this one go.
Ok, if you know how to read a dog, this poor guy is not embarrassed but, how could I resist.
some of us sure do things to our dogs that perhaps we should feel either guilty or embarrassed about? which one should we choose?
Motley’s tip o’ the day… easy way to gain respect is to show respect !
I thought the most basic place to start would be to look up the common definitions for :
These are way to similar to be separate emotional states. Bet the underlying biochem supports this proposition. I stand with my theory that there are core emotions that dogs and humans share. Things like embarrassment are over complications of these core emotions and poorly understood, therefore they are explicit cognitive manifestations of these simple emotional states and not separate or unique adaptations. What I see is that guilt and shame or embarrassment are the same emotion and we are defining different experiences of the same biochemical activity based on context. I will admit that is what our higher brain evolved to do so, it is just doing its job. So, for today…. I stand by my theory that all animals share the same emotional mechanisms/states, based on the evolution of their brain. The “higher brain” in apes and humans serves to interpret and does not really inhibit or add to our emotional range.
I like this theory you can falsify and yet it is very predictive. It is also 10000% Motley Dog Dog Training. It is also true that I maybe suffering from confirmation bias. but, wish us luck.
P.S this does not mean it is ok for you to dress fluffy like a clown… He likely does not enjoy it in the first place. This by the way is Anthropomorphism, if fluffy is cold grab a simple sweater He will thank you for it. Things like shame, and embarrassment are likely interpretations of emotions not emotions in and of themselves. Closely related to the effects we discussed when we add and choice to an instinct. Culture trains us and give us acceptable and unacceptable these become primes and cues to activate the mental construct we call shame, and embarrassment. These things do not occur in nature.. this is why your dog has no shame or embarrassment humping a strangers leg. Might be he is mad at you for naming him Fluffy 🙂