Researcher: Horses Are “Emotional Sponges”
“Horses are truly emotional sponges, and they react strongly and very rapidly to our human emotions,” said Léa Lansade, PhD, of the French Horse and Riding Institute and the National Institute for Agricultural Research’s behavior science department, in Tours.
The Experiment: “Strong Reactions”
In a recent study, Lansade and her fellow researchers, including PhD student Miléna Trösch, tested horses’ ability to associate human vocal and facial emotional expressions. They projected short video clips without sound of an unfamiliar woman on either side of each study horse. In one video the woman was making an “angry” face; in the other she was making a “joyful” face.
At the same time, the scientists played an audio clip of a different, also unfamiliar, woman vocalizing either anger or joy through nonverbal sounds (no words), such as grrr and
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