A new study published in the Communication Biology found that dogs are likely to listen better to women than men for one surprising reason.
It turns out that when we, hoomansWhen we talk to dogs, we tend to use a speech style that we also use when interacting with babies.
The authors called this “exaggerated prosody,” but we commonly know it as the lilting voice.
But what is the reason why dogs listen better to women than men? The study found that dogs respond to speech directed at them, especially if it is a woman, because women are more likely to speak to dogs in a singing voice than men.
The study found evidence that different genders use the singing voice differently. Women hyperarticulate their vowels more than men and tend to talk to dogs more in naturally playful situations.
The study was conducted by researchers from Eötvös Loránd University in Hungary. They performed brain scans on trained dogs to find evidence that dogs are actually sensitive to the way people talk to them.
Anna Gergely, co-first author of the study, said in a press release, “Studying how canine brains process dog-directed speech is exciting because it can help us understand how exaggerated prosody contributes to efficient speech processing in a non-human species that is skilled at relying on various speech signals (e.g. following verbal commands ).”
In the MRI, trained dogs listened to real-life speech samples collected from various men and women interacting with dogs, babies and adults.
Furthermore, the study’s results are our first evidence that dogs are “tailored to the speech specifically addressed to them.”
Anna Gábor, co-first author of the study, also said: “What makes this result particularly interesting is that in dogs, unlike babies, this sensitivity cannot be explained by an ancient response to cues from conspecifics or by intrauterine exposure to female voices.”
Gábor also said that the result of their research could serve as further evidence that dogs’ neural preference was something they developed during their domestication.
“Notably, the vocal tone patterns characteristic of women’s dog-directed speech are not typically used in dog-dog communication,” Gábor explains.