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Differences and Similarities in Humans' Perceptions of the Thinking and Feeling of a Dog and a Boy

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College students' perceptions of companion dog mentality were systematically compared with perceptions of human child mentality. Independent groups of respondents rated capacities of a dog or a boy on 12 categories of thinking and 30 items of remorseful feelings for misbehavior. The boy received superior ratings for so-called "complex" (but not "simple") thinking categories and "upper level" (but not "lower level") remorse items. Even so, there were strong associations between dog and boy means across all 12 thinking categories (r = .74) and all 30 remorse items (r = .72). Thus elements of thinking and feeling that were judged likely (or not) for the boy were also relatively likely (or not) for the dog. These several comparisons were taken to indicate that whereas the dog and boy were perceived by subjects as having mentalities that were quantitatively different, those respective mentalities were nevertheless viewed as qualitatively similar. Findings were discussed in terms of social-cognition theories of anthropomorphism.



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