No kidding! Goats prefer to interact with humans who look happy

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Goats recognise and are attracted to happy humans, a study has found.

Much like us, they seem to be drawn to smiling faces. But don’t expect to make friends with a goat if you scowl at it.

Scientists showed 20 goats unfamiliar photos of the same human face looking happy or angry.

Released from a distance of four metres (13ft) they generally made straight for the happy image, exploring it curiously with their snouts.

This suggested that goats use the left hemisphere of their brains to process positive emotion, said the team from Queen Mary, University of London.

A goat facing images of positive and negative expressions
A goat facing images of positive and negative expressions (Queen Mary University/PA)

Goats were already known to be sensitive to human body language, but the new findings show they also respond to emotional facial expressions.

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 these expressions, but they also prefer to interact with happy ones.”

Dr Alan Mcelligott
Dr Alan Mcelligott conducted the research at Buttercups Sanctuary for Goats in Kent (Queen Mary University/PA)

Sheep are known to possess a powerful visual memory and an ability to recognise human faces from photographs.

Goats at the Buttercup Sanctuary in Boughton Monchlesea, Kent. (Dr Christian Nawroth/PA)

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