Overall Title of Project: Social Behavior in Domestic Dogs
Major area of Psychology in which these projects are located: Biopsychology
Students will code specific behaviors while watching video (on computers) of social interactions among domestic dogs. The interactions occur mainly during play and greetings. The videos are filmed locally (in back yards or dog parks, etc.) as part of an ongoing study of dog social behavior. Students will use slow motion and frame-by-frame viewing to recognize and code subtle or rapid behaviors difficult to identify in real time. Through this experience, students will develop an excellent eye for complex behavioral sequences. Since these observational skills will generalize to other species, this training is useful for any student interested in studying naturally occurring behavior in animals, including humans. Students will work for a pre-agreed, average number of hours each week at a video laboratory in East Hall. Work hours are flexible but a minimum of 6 hours/week is required. Students can take the course as Psych 322 (credit/no credit) or Psych 326. The latter involves writing a 6-8 page paper in scientific format that describes the coding, analysis, and interpretation of some aspect of dog behavior. Students highly motivated to continue with research may participate further in subsequent terms. Advanced students may have opportunities to design their own research projects in collaboration with Dr. Smuts and other experienced students.
Time commitment requested: Minimum 6 hrs/week
Qualifications of student:
At least one previous class in animal behavior, such as Psych 335 or Psych 338 (same as Anthro 368) and Psych 530, "Behavior of wolves & dogs" taught by Dr. Smuts.