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Positive and negative contexts predict duration of pig vocalisations

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Lucy Asher



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Emotions are mental states occurring in response to external and internal stimuli and thus form an integral part of an animal's behaviour. Emotions can be mapped in two dimensions based on their arousal and valence. Whilst good indicators of arousal exist, clear indicators of emotional valence, particularly positive valence, are still rare. However, positively valenced emotions may play a crucial role in social interactions in many species and thus, an understanding of how emotional valence is expressed is needed. Vocalisations are a potential indicator of emotional valence as they can reflect the internal state of the caller. We experimentally manipulated valence, using positive and negative cognitive bias trials, to quantify changes in pig vocalisations. We found that grunts were shorter in positive trials than in negative trials. Interestingly, we did not find differences in the other measured acoustic parameters between the positive and negative contexts as reported in previous studies. These differences in results suggest that acoustic parameters may differ in their sensitivity as indicators of emotial valence. However, it is important to understand how similar contexts are, in terms of their valence, to be able to fully understand how and when acoustic parameters reflect emotional states.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Friel M, Kunc HP, Griffin K, Asher L, Collins LM

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Scientific reports

Year: 2019

Volume: 9

Issue: 1

Online publication date: 14/02/2019

Acceptance date: 19/12/2018

Date deposited: 25/02/2019

ISSN (electronic): 2045-2322

Publisher: Nature


DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-38514-w

PubMed id: 30765788


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