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A new study published in the Communications Biology found that dogs are most likely to listen to women better than men for one surprising reason.
It turns out that when we, hoomans, talk to dogs, we tend to use a speech style we also use when interacting with babies.
The authors referred to this as an “exaggerated prosody”, but we commonly know this as the singsong voice.
But what’s the reason why dogs listen to women better than men? The study found that dogs respond to speech directed at them, especially when it’s a woman, because women tend to talk to dogs in a singsong voice more than men.
The study found evidence that different genders use the singsong voice differently. Women hyper-articulate their vowels more than men and tend to talk more to dogs in naturally playful situations.
The study was conducted by researchers from Eötvös Loránd University in Hungary. They conducted brain scans on trained dogs to find proof that dogs are actually sensitive to the manner in which people talk to them.
Anna Gergely, co-first author of the study said in a press release, “Studying how dog brains process dog-directed speech is exciting, because it can help us understand how exaggerated prosody contributes to efficient speech processing in a nonhuman species skilled at relying on different speech cues (e.g. follow 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 results of the study are our first proof that dogs are actually “tuned to the speech directed specifically at them.”
Anna Gábor, co-first author of the study also said, “What makes this result particularly interesting is that in dogs, as opposed to infants, this sensitivity cannot be explained by either ancient responsiveness to conspecific signals or by intrauterine exposure to women’s voice.”
Gábor also said that the result of their study may serve as further evidence that dogs’ neural preference was something they developed during their domestication.
“Remarkably, the voice tone patterns characterizing women’s dog-directed speech are not typically used in dog-dog communication,” Gábor explains.