Assessment of Positive Emotions in Animals to Improve Their Welfare

INRA, UR1213 Herbivores, Site de Theix, F-63122 Saint-Genès-Champanelle, France.
Physiology & Behavior (Impact Factor: 2.98). 11/2007; 92(3):375-97. DOI: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2007.02.003
Source: PubMed


It is now widely accepted that good welfare is not simply the absence of negative experiences, but rather is primarily the presence of positive experiences such as pleasure. However scientific investigation of positive emotions has long been neglected. This paper addresses two main issues: first, it reviews the current state of scientific knowledge that supports the existence of positive affective states in animals and, second, it suggests possible applications of this knowledge that may enhance quality of life under animal management conditions. In the first part of the paper, recent advances in psychology and neuroscience are reviewed to provide pragmatic frameworks based on cognitive processes (such as positive anticipation, contrast and controllability) for further investigations of positive emotions in animals. Thereafter, the neurobiological bases of positive emotions are highlighted in order to identify behavioral and physiological expressions of positive experiences in animals. Monitoring both the autonomic nervous system (via heart rate and its variability) and the immune system could offer relevant tools to better assess emotional states in animals, complementary to classical adrenocortical measures. In the second part of the paper, useful strategies for enhancing positive experiences (such as physical, social and cognitive enrichment or putative genetic selection) are outlined. Then this paper emphasizes practical applications for assessing and promoting positive emotions that may help in providing animals with a better quality of life. Play, affiliative behaviors and some vocalizations appear to be the most promising convenient indicators for assessing positive experiences in laboratory and farm animals under commercial conditions.

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Available from: Jan Langbein
    • "A behaviour that we could not consider for the further statistical analysis was " vocalize " (making a sound with the voice). Even though it has been suggested that vocalizations could be markers of both diminished and enhanced welfare (Boissy et al., 2007) and Miller et al. (2013) used some sounds as indicators of welfare, the observers involved in the present study could not be sure of every vocalization, since the used view points did not give the chance to hear all the sounds that tigers might have emitted. Any behaviour expressed for less than 20 min of total time was excluded from further statistical analysis, because the inclusion in the model of those sparce data would have added rumors and casuality to the output. "
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    ABSTRACT: The activity budgets of seven captive tigers (Panthera tigris) housed in four zoological gardens (A, B, C, D) were analysed to assess their welfare and to relate it to several variables, including enclosure type, management, and animal history. Behaviours were recorded by instantaneous focal animal sampling at 2-min intervals. Data were collected by five observers using an ethogram listing 26 behaviours adapted from the literature. To process the data, the activity budgets of each tiger and the overall activity budget were constructed. On the basis of previous literature, some of the behaviours, listed in the ethogram, were labelled as indicators of diminished welfare and some were labelled as indicators of enhanced welfare. Statistical analysis was carried out to determine in which zoo the tigers were more prone to exhibit indicators of enhanced welfare and which feature(s) had a major effect on their welfare. Over 195 h of data were collected and 5867 observations were recorded. The tigers in zoo A (OR = 4.11, 95% confidence interval [CI] 3.2–5.3) and zoo C (OR = 1.83, 95% CI 1.4–2.4) were more prone to express indicators of enhanced welfare with respect to zoo D as the reference. Among the variables describing animal peculiarity, daily routine management, and enclosure features, the presence of a water pool with clean water was significantly associated with enhanced welfare (OR = 2.04, 95% CI 1.4–3.04). The data suggested that none of the tigers displayed consistent signs of stress and that all experienced a basic welfare status. An essential feature that helped to enhance good animal welfare was a water pool in the enclosure containing clean water.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2016 · Applied Animal Behaviour Science
    • "However, boldness, a broad personality trait which includes non-social fear, has been found to improve performance in working dogs (Canis familiaris) (Svartberg, 2002). Playfulness could indicate that the animal is in a positive affective state and willing to interact positively with other (Boissy et al., 2007). However, in dogs, playfulness is also correlated with trainability in several studies, e.g. "
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    ABSTRACT: Using training to prepare laboratory animals for biomedical research is one important behavior management task. With increased knowledge about factors influencing training success, training programs may be optimized, resulting in a refinement of primate husbandry. Even when animals are trained under the same conditions there are individual differences in how they respond to training. The current paper focuses on two of the factors potentially influencing training success: social rank and personality. Five observers rated the personality and the social rank of 34 long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) in an observer trait rating survey. Training success was measured in 22 of these individuals and from four of their shaping protocols; hand-feeding, target training, presenting hands and presenting feet. From the factor analysis four personality traits could be identified: 'Emotionality‘, ’Activity‘, 'sociability‘, and ’Tolerance‘. A Multiple linear regressions with backward elimination showed that the personality trait “Activity” was associated with training success (adj.R2 = 0.71, p < 0.0005), and unexpectedly, social rank had less influence (adj.R2 = 0.30, p = 0.005) on training success in group-housed long-tailed macaques. We propose that training success can be conceptualized as consisting of two components: access to the trainer and problem solving. In the case of personality, the two components combine to promote training success: curious animals gain access to trainers, and playful animals are good problem solvers; both these adjectives were present in the trait ‘Activity’. In contrast, with regards to rank, qualities that increase access to the trainer (dominance) and traits that promote problem solving (subordinance) counteract one another, potentially explaining why in this study, training was better explained by personality than by rank.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2016 · Applied Animal Behaviour Science
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    • "For example, commonly used behavioural indicators of 'stress' such as self-directed, stereotypical and self-injurious behaviours have great inter-and intra-individual variation and may, in some contexts, better reflect coping strategies and developmental history (Maestripieri 2000; Novak 2003); cortisol, the widely measured 'stress' hormone, may provide a better indicator of physiological arousal than (psychological) 'stress' per se (Honess & Marin 2006a). What cognitive-bias studies do not currently show is whether an animal is in a categorically positive or negative emotional state, as opposed to simply in a relatively more positive or relatively more negative emotional state than the comparison condition (eg Boissy et al 2007; Mendl et al 2009). Distinguishing between absolute vs relative states remains a challenge for researchers, and it is likely that combination of the cognitive-bias approach with neurophysiological data will help elucidate this issue in the future. "

    Full-text · Dataset · Dec 2015
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