Our research seeks to answer three broad questions: (1) How do dogs think and see the world? (2) How has this changed across domestication? (3) What can this tell us about humans?
How do dogs think and see the world?
To read recent coverage of our work with dogs by the American Kennel Club, check out this link.
How have dogs changed across domestication?
What can dogs tell us about humans?
Although dogs are interesting to study in-and-of-themselves, we also study dogs at Boston College because of the insight they provide into our own human psychology. As dogs have become our best friends over domestication, they have become more similar to us in some ways than our closest primate relatives. As one notable example, dogs readily follow human social cues, like pointing or eye gaze, while our closest primate relatives struggle to interpret these cues without extensive training. Given that dogs are similar to us in so many ways, we are interested in exploring both the similarities and differences between dogs and humans so we can pinpoint aspects of psychology that may be uniquely human.
Peer Reviewed Publications
Bray, E., Otto, C., Udell, M., Hall, N., Johnston, A. M., & MacLean, E. (2021). Enhancing the selection and performance of working dogs. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 8, 644431. PDF
Pelgrim, M., Espinosa, J., Tecwyn, E, Marton, S., Johnston, A. M., Buchsbaum, D. (2021). What’s the point? Domestic dogs’ sensitivity to the accuracy of human informants. Animal Cognition, 24, 281-297. PDF
Silver, Z., Furlong, E., Johnston, A. M., & Santos, L. R. (2021). Training differences predict dogs’ (Canis lupus familiaris) preferences for prosocial others. Animal Cognition, 24, 75-83. PDF
Byrne, M., Bray, E., MacLean, E., Johnston, A. M. (2020). Evidence of win-stay-lose-shift in puppies and adult dogs. Proceedings of the Cognitive Science Society. PDF
Royka, A. L., Johnston, A. M., Santos, L. R. (2020). Metacognition in canids: A comparison of dogs (Canis familiaris) and dingoes (Canis dingo). Manuscript in press at the Journal of Comparative Psychology. PDF
Johnston, A. M., Byrne, M., & Santos, L. R. (2018). What is unique about shared reality? Insights from a new comparison species. Current Opinion in Psychology, 23, 30-33. PDF
Johnston, A. M., Huang, Y., & Santos, L. R. (2018). Dogs do not demonstrate a human-like bias to defer to communicative cues. Learning & Behavior, 46(4), 449-461. PDF
Johnston, A. M., Holden, P. C., & Santos, L. R. (2017). Exploring the evolutionary origins of overimitation: A comparison across domesticated and non-domesticated canids. Developmental Science, 20(4), e12460. PDF
Johnston, A. M., Turrin, C., Watson, L., Arre, A. M., & Santos, L. R. (2017) Uncovering the origins of dog-human eye contact: Dingoes establish eye contact more than wolves, but less than dogs. Animal Behaviour, 133, 123-129. PDF
Johnston, A. M., McAuliffe, K. & Santos, L. R. (2015). Another way to learn about teaching: What dogs can tell us about the evolution of pedagogy. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 38, e44. PDF
In Press Publications
Hall, N., Johnston, A.M., Bray, E., Otto, C., MacLean, E., & Udell, M. (in press). Working dog training for the 21st century. Frontiers in Veterinary Science.
Johnston, A. M., Arre, A. M., Bogese, M. J., & Santos, L. R. (in press). How do communicative cues shape the way that dogs (Canis familiaris) encode objects? Journal of Comparative Psychology.
Johnston, A. M., Chang, L. W., Wharton, K., & Santos, L. R. (in press). Dogs (Canis familiaris) prioritize independent exploration over looking back. Journal of Comparative Psychology.
Book Reviews and Popular Press
Dr. Johnston was recently featured in an article entitled “How Stupid are Dogs, Really?” along with some of her colleagues from the field of dog cognition. This interesting article covers some of the misconceptions people tend to have regarding canine...
Our primary investigator, Dr. Angie Johnston, was recently invited to be a guest on the Sporting Dog Talk Podcast. In episode 63, she and the hosts discuss topics about canine communication including its evolution and what it means for owners. Check out the episode...