No ifs, no butts, so long as you keep smiling

Dr Alan Mcelligott. Research conducted at Buttercups Sanctuary for Goats in Kent, demonstrated that the goats preferred to interact with the smiling face.
Dr Alan Mcelligott. Research conducted at Buttercups Sanctuary for Goats in Kent, demonstrated that the goats preferred to interact with the smiling face.
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Goats are less likely to butt humans who smile at them, researchers have found.

The animals recognise and are attracted to people who smile at them, according to scientists who showed 20 goats unfamiliar photos of the same face looking happy or angry.

The research, conducted at Buttercups Sanctuary for Goats in Kent, demonstrated that the goats preferred to interact with a smiling face.

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

The effect was most obvious when the happy face was positioned on the right side of the testing arena.

Dr Alan McElligott, who led the research, said: “The study has important implications for how we interact with livestock and other species, because the abilities of animals to perceive human emotions might be widespread and not just limited to pets.”

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

Other studies have shown that dogs and horses also appear to recognise and remember human facial expressions displaying emotion.