A study has shown that goats are more drawn to humans with happy facial expressions, as opposed to humans with neutral or frowny-faces.
The researchers in this experiment showed goats pairs of photos. One was of a person smiling, and the other was the same person but with a sad or angry expression. The goats reportedly made a beeline for the happy face.
We’ve known for some time that other domesticated animals like dogs and horses can recognise human facial expressions. But knowing that goats can also recognise happy human expressions is exciting, as it shows the intelligence that we all know they have!
The study was carried out in Kent, UK where pairs of black and white photos were put up on a wall approximately 1.3 metres apart. The goat would then be let loose to explore their surroundings.
It was clear that the goats preferred the photos of a smiling person, as they approached the smiling photo before even acknowledging that the other photo was there. They also spent significantly more time exploring the smiling photos with their noses.
It’s interesting to note that this only occurred when the happy, smiling photo was placed on the left-hand side. If the photo was placed on the right-hand side the goats showed no preference to either of the photographs. The researchers involved in the study believe that this is because they’re processing the photo on the left side of their brain. They know this because the same is seen in other animals. They believe that the left side of the brain processes positive emotions, and the right side of the brain is involved in avoiding angry looking human faces. Though there’s no way of knowing for sure.
Understanding the emotional needs and lives of goats in a scientific manner is great news for the goat-loving community. We’ve known for years that goats love a happy face, and that they won’t be as responsive if you’re looking miserable or annoyed. Anyone who’s ever owned a goat can vouch for this, and now there’s science to back it up!
So, the next time that you’re approaching a goat, make sure to slap a big smile on your face – they’ll be more likely to approach you and you might even make a new friend!