(ORDO NEWS) — In the case of severe panic conditions in dogs (for example, when the animal is nervous because of a thunderstorm), veterinarians prescribe the same medications as people. Many psychological states of dogs are similar in nature to ours, but this is not the only similarity…
It’s amazing how over the millennia we have become similar to each other!
A new study based on a survey of dog owners suggests we are so similar to our furry companions that dogs can be used to better understand human mental health.
“Dogs are probably the closest psychological model to humans,” says Karen Overall, an animal behaviorist at the University of Prince Edward Island, Canada.
What is a “psychological model”?
In psychology , there is a certain model of human personality, which is called the “Big Five”. It includes five factors: extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness (consciousness), neuroticism, openness to experience (intelligence).
These traits can be influenced by genetics and can affect a person’s mental health. For example, neurotic personalities are more vulnerable to depression or anxiety, while character traits such as conscientiousness and agreeableness protect against these disorders.
For dogs, scientists identify seven personality factors: insecurity, energy, trainability, aggressiveness / dominance, sociability with people, sociability with dogs, perseverance. Some of these characteristics overlap with personality factors in humans, for example, neuroticism in humans is similar to insecurity in dogs.
How can a dog’s condition say about our health?
Experts began suggesting the use of the dog as a model for human psychiatry as early as 20 years ago. The new study assessed how dog traits affect the animal’s psychological state, and whether dogs have the same relationship between different psychological components as humans.
As part of the work, scientists developed a survey for dog owners, consisting of 63 items. Participants were asked to talk about the animal’s health, fears, noise sensitivity, separation anxiety, impulsivity and inattention, and aggression towards humans or other dogs.
A total of 11,360 dog owners (52 breeds) completed the survey. After analyzing the questionnaires, the team found that in dogs, as in humans, personality is closely correlated with behavior.
In particular, dogs with an “insecure” personality were more likely to exhibit unwanted behaviors (fear of loud noises, lack of friendliness, etc.). “This is very similar to neuroticism and anxiety in humans,” the scientists explain.
It also turned out that dogs with low attention spans in training were more likely to exhibit impulsive behaviors, such as fussiness or quick abandonment of tasks, reminiscent of symptoms of ADHD in humans.
The researchers say these results could be used to explore the genetic basis of mental disorders.
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