Dog and cat owners build strong relationships with their pets and often observe them responding to how they feel. For instance, a cat may sit on your lap when you feel a bit low or frustrated. Recent research that explored emotions with adult dogs showed them pictures of dog and human faces with associated sounds and spoken words. What the researchers found was that the dogs looked at the faces for much longer when the sound matched the facial expression. Given the long history of domestic dogs with humans, this finding is not a great surprise. Even so, it’s the first scientific evidence of a non-human animal interpreting human emotions.
Although in everyday language, we tend to use feelings and emotions as interchangeable, some differences are worth exploring. Unfortunately, there’s no universally agreed definition of either. Different disciplines take separate approaches. For instance, neuroscience focuses on where emotions and feelings are located in the brain; defining emotions as a neurological reaction to an emotional stimulus and feelings as the mental interpretation of an event.
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