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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Expectancy violations about physical properties of animated objects in dogs


Dogs are not particularly known for complex physical cognitive abilities. However, a number of recent violation-of-expectation studies have challenged this view. In the current eye-tracking study, we further investigated dogs’ (N=15) reaction to physically implausible events, particularly in the context of support, occlusion, and launching events. In Experiment 1, the dogs watched a rolling ball moving over a gap in a surface either falling down or hovering over the gap. In Experiment 2, the dogs saw a ball rolling behind a narrow pole either disappearing behind it or re-appearing on the other side. In Experiment 3, the dogs observed launching events either with or without contact between the balls. The dogs’ pupil dilation response and looking times suggest that they form implicit expectations about occlusion and launching events but not about gravity-related events at least in the context of animated objects on a screen.

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