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New Study Suggests That Dogs Feel Jealousy — Wait, Didn’t We Already Know That?

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A study performed at UC San Diego and recently published in the scientific journal PLoS ONE has reached a conclusion that will shock scientists, but will seem obvious to dog-owners: canines get jealous.

Jealousy, which is similar but distinctly different from envy, is the feeling that arises when a valued relationship (familial, romantic, or platonic) is potentially threatened by an interloper, or third-party. In theory, jealousy is an evolutionary defense mechanism that’s purpose is to prevent the loss of a social partner or the loss of resources that might result from the formation of an aforedescribed social triangle.Chihuahua and slippers

Although many dog-owners can provide plenty of anecdotes that may demonstrate feelings of jealousy in their pets, there hasn’t been much research that distinguishes this behavior as actual jealousy, as opposed to anthropomorphism — or the undue assignment of human traits to a non-human subject — as a result of filtering their behavior through our own subjective emotional lens.

Researchers performed an experiment, based on a similar study that focused on jealousy among infants, which allowed them to observe any potential instances of jealousy among the participating canines, and to eliminate the possibility that we’re simply anthropomorphizing our pups.

 

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Matthew M. Sullivan holds a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Grand Valley State University, with emphases in fiction and nonfiction. He lives smack-dab between some railroad tracks and Grand Rapids Michigan's third-busiest road, and spends his time studying film and literary fiction.