Peter Cook, Ashley Prichard, Mark Spivak, and Gregory S. Berns, Jealousy in dogs? Evidence from brain imaging


Cook and colleagues (2018) use a novel approach to test jealousy in dogs. Although such a non-invasive approach is more than welcome in comparative research, several methodological shortcomings limit the impact of this study. We briefly outline two main problems. (1) There is no evidence that the fake dogs in the study were perceived as real, and thus as social rivals, which would be a prerequisite for jealousy. (2) It is questionable whether dogs generally show the cognitive prerequisites for jealousy, such as attentiveness toward a social rival, the ability to understand intentions, and a sense of fairness. We suggest that future studies should combine the same creativity with more controlled procedures in order to better understand the evolutionary origins of jealousy.

Author Biography

Juliane Bräuer is a researcher at the Max-Planck-Institute for the Science of Human History and the University of Jena. Her research is in Comparative Psychology with a special interest in investigating the cognitive skills that different species – particularly dogs – have evolved to survive in their ecological niche. Her research topics include communication, cooperation, perception and individual differences. Website

Federica Amici is a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Leipzig and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, where she is especially interested in the evolutionary forces shaping the distribution of cognitive skills across vertebrates, to better understand the relative contribution of social and ecological factors to the evolution of complex cognitive skills. Website