Goats Can Recognize Human Expressions And Are Attracted To Smiley, Happy Faces Audrey RushApril 2020 Nobody likes sad or grumpy faces, not even goats—a recent study has found that goats are much smarter than we thought and can understand human expressions. Farm animals can react to humans with fear, indifference, or occasionally—in the case of goats—hostility. But, according to scientists, they can also be won over with a smiley face, just like dogs. Goats can differentiate unhappy faces from smiling ones and have been found to prefer people who are grinning rather than scowling. Scientists have always wondered whether animals can read human expressions and researchers at Queen Mary, the University of London recently decided to find out if there’s any truth to it. For their study, a team of scientists analyzed the reactions of 20 goats—12 males and eight females—at the Buttercups Sanctuary for Goats in Kent, UK. The goats were released into a pen lined with black-and-white photographs of humans making happy faces and other angry expressions. Researchers were surprised to learn that the animals appeared to be more interested in the images of smiling people, walking over to them and even touching them with their noses. https://v.srgcdn.com/zyIBNPqRQl9ziw5kwO8M.mp4 However, this only happened when the happy photos were placed on their right-hand side. When the pictures were reversed, the goats didn’t show any preference. This may indicate that goats process positive emotion with the left sides of their brains. Scientists also suggest goats, which have the reputation of being dim and partial to butting humans, actually have similar characteristics to dogs. The ability to read expressions may be a side-effect of being domesticated, kept in petting zoos or used to provide milk. Dr. Alan McElligott, who led the research, said: “The study has important implications for how we interact with livestock because the abilities of animals to perceive human emotions might be widespread and not just limited to pets.” Co-author Dr. Christian Nawroth, a member of the Queen Mary team now based at the Leibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology in Germany, said: “Here, we show for the first time that goats do not only distinguish between expressions but also prefer to interact with happy ones.” Of course, goats aren’t the only animals who can understand human emotions. Another study found that dogs and horses can also identify facial expressions of their human companions. The experiment was conducted in the same manner as that of goats, and it was found that dogs were more attracted to smiling faces. Animals think you’re cuter when you smile, always remember that!