Monday 20 November 2017

This little piggy went to the psychiatrist

Tom Wilkinson in London

Pigs can feel optimistic and pessimistic according to how they are being treated, scientists revealed yesterday.

Experts from Newcastle University's School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development hope the research, which shows pigs are capable of feeling complex emotions, will have an impact on animal welfare.

In an experiment reminiscent of Pavlov's dogs, pigs were taught to associate a note on a musical instrument with a treat -- an apple -- and a dog training "clicker" with something mildly unpleasant -- in this case rustling a plastic bag.

The researchers then placed half the pigs in an enriched environment, while the other half were placed in a smaller, boring environment.

The team then played an ambiguous noise -- a squeak.

They found that the pigs in the enriched environment were much more optimistic about the new noise and approached expecting a treat.

Whereas the pigs in the boring environment were pessimistic, fearing an unpleasant experience and did not approach.

Irish Independent

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