CZAAWE Resource Article

On the Way to Assess Emotions in Animals: Do Lambs (Ovis aries) Evaluate an Event Through Its Suddenness, Novelty, or Unpredictability?
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
Journal of Comparative Psychology
1939-2087 0735-7036
Appraisal theories provide a framework that gives insight into emotions and could allow comparisons across species. According to these theories, events are first evaluated on their suddenness, novelty, and unpredictability. The authors examined the ability of lambs (Ovis aries) to evaluate an event according to these 3 criteria through 3 tests. The lambs responded to suddenness with a startle response coupled with an increase in heart rate and to novelty with an orientation response coupled with an increase of vagal activity. There was no clear evidence that lambs can detect the predictability of an event. Those results support the usefulness of appraisal theories to assess emotion in animals.