The researchers found that adults grimaced in the same way when playing and interacting with children and pets.
Have you noticed that your face changes while communicating with your child? What about pets? In a new study, scientists focused on studying how our face changes while communicating and playing with children and domestic dogs – it turned out that we use the same grimaces to communicate with both of them, writes Daily Mail .
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In a new study, researchers at the Eötvös Lorand University in Budapest, Hungary, focused on studying people’s facial expressions when interacting with children and pets. Note that earlier scientists have already proven that when communicating with pets and children, people switch to a higher tone.
A total of 42 people took part in the study. The children in the study were between 3 and 17 months old, and the dogs were no older than 12 years old. The study involved breeds such as collies, dachshunds, poodles and mongrels.
During the study, scientists focused on how the faces of adults change during interaction with children and dogs. In total, they were able to identify six different facial expressions that we use most often – from a face like a fish, to “feigned surprise” or “special happiness.” Namely:
- feigned happy surprise: wide smile, raised eyebrows and cheeks;
- fish face: compressed lips and slightly parted mouth;
- especially happy: a wide smile with raised cheeks and a slightly parted mouth;
- fake surprised eyebrow: a raised eyebrow, an expression of slight suspicion;
- false surprise: raised eyebrows, wide open eyes and mouth;
- imitation of “surprise mouth”: the mouth is open, but the eyebrows do not change.
The researchers note that adults most often use a “particularly happy face,” which suggests a tense smile, a parted mouth, and expressive eyes. Another most common grimace is “feigned surprise”, in which the mouth is open and the eyebrows are raised. Also, people often use the “fish face”, which suggests pouting with an open mouth. Sometimes some of these facial expressions can be combined to create new grimaces, such as “feigned surprise and special happiness.”
The researchers note that their findings suggest that infant- and dog-targeted communication appears to be characterized by similar specific adult facial expressions. It is curious that all six facial expressions are quite typical for communication with pets and children, but are absent during communication between adults.
According to University of York Psychology researcher Dr Kathy Slocombe, earlier studies have already established that a special speech register, also known as baby-directed speech, is important for children, which subsequently helps the child acquire language and improve his connection with adults. It is curious that this form of speech also has something similar to what we call “dog speech”, that is, the timbre and intonation with which we communicate with pets.