Goats are known for their aggressive and agile movements, but when it comes to their emotional capabilities, very little is known.
Studies have discovered one of the surprising abilities that goats possess. They have the ability to differentiate emotions from each other’s calls and also respond to the feelings of other goats, an occurrence often referred to as emotional contagion.
Emotional contagion pertains to the phenomenon facilitated by the Mirror Neuron System (MNS) which enables one to “catch” emotions of their peers, making them appear contagious.
The researchers conducted a study in order to determine the validity of the claim by recording the calls of the goats from different situations.
To register the positive emotions, they recorded the goats’ calls while they were being fed and hanging out with their peers.
On the other hand, in order to record the negative emotions, they chose goats who are just watching their peers eat while having no access to food themselves.
Afterwards, they played the recorded sounds to the animals to capture their response and it was found that goats could differentiate the different emotions linked to the calls as they exhibited different psychological reactions upon hearing them.
The goats who heard the calls associated to positive emotions appeared to have greater change in their heart rates compared to those who heard the sad calls.
Together, these results provide evidence that goats are not just able to distinguish call variants based on the emotion conveyed, but can also have their emotions affected by it.
It also shows that animals are not just attentive but also sensitive to others’ emotions.
According to one of the researchers, these findings can help everyone get a better understanding about the evolution of emotion, even in animals.