Dogs follow human misleading suggestions more often when the informant has a false belief

Lucrezia Lonardo, Christoph Völter, Claus Lamm, Ludwig Huber

Veröffentlichungen: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftArtikelPeer Reviewed


We investigated whether dogs (Canis familiaris) distinguish between human true (TB) and false beliefs (FB). In three experiments with a pre-registered change of location task, dogs (n = 260) could retrieve food from one of two opaque buckets after witnessing a misleading suggestion by a human informant (the 'communicator') who held either a TB or a FB about the location of food. Dogs in both the TB and FB group witnessed the initial hiding of food, its subsequent displacement by a second experimenter, and finally, the misleading suggestion to the empty bucket by the communicator. On average, dogs chose the suggested container significantly more often in the FB group than in the TB group and hence were sensitive to the experimental manipulation. Terriers were the only group of breeds that behaved like human infants and apes tested in previous studies with a similar paradigm, by following the communicator's suggestion more often in the TB than in the FB group. We discuss the results in terms of processing of goals and beliefs. Overall, we provide evidence that pet dogs distinguish between TB and FB scenarios, suggesting that the mechanisms underlying sensitivity to others' beliefs have not evolved uniquely in the primate lineage.

FachzeitschriftProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 21 Juli 2021

ÖFOS 2012

  • 106051 Verhaltensbiologie