Promising “cat faces” pilot

7 10 2015

Jenna Cheal, Lee Niel and I submitted a small grant application to Purina last week, in a flurry of work which involved running a small pilot study in a week.

Though a bit too stressful for my tastes, the results made it worth it. We chose images of cat faces from our own photos and YouTube video stills. 10 cats were in positive situations (i.e. ones they sought out), 10 in negative (i.e. ones they would avoid if they could; e.g. see Image 3: a poor animal retreating from a mannequin head).

Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 11.00.08 PM

We removed obvious cues (e.g. the cats’ ears, the restraining hands of humans, mannequin heads, etc), and then asked 17 people if they could judge the state of each of the 20 cats.

They found this pretty difficult (the average no. correct was 12.6/20), but as a group they performed well above chance (t16 = 5.03, 1-tailed p < 0.001). Furthermore, 8 of the 17 scored 14/20 or better (1-tailed binomial tests: p < 0.057; with two amazing Cat Whisperers scoring 16/20 [p < 0.01]).

Seven images (3 positive, 4 negative) were also consistently interpreted correctly (by at least 13/17 scorers; p < 0.03), and Mouse won the Most Readable Face Award: all 17 could tell when she was purring versus when she’d just had unpleasant medicine (though of course my biases in taking the pictures could well have played a role; our next job — if we get the money — is to do this again properly, in a way that stops us ‘cherry picking’ our images).

Three days later …

7 10 2015

Three days after acceptance, our proofs are ready! How is that even possible? Definitely makes me want to publish in Zoo Biology again.
Screen Shot 2015-10-03 at 10.47.08 PM

Sylvie helps with the book

2 10 2015

Mike Mendl and I are trying to write a book (long story).

Here is much of this book, and Sylvie indicating with her bottom that Chapter 1 is rather a mess.


Fame for Carole!

2 10 2015

Click here for the Marie Curie Facebook page.Screenshot 2015-10-02 12.21.07

Good-looking new paper on animal depression

1 10 2015

Good-looking if sad new paper. Seems depression research is really kicking off. I’ve not read all of it, but Brenda McCowan and John Capitanio always seems to do great work.

The Face of Evil

1 10 2015

Luke, pushing all my NSERC grant paperwork off the table — because humans shrieking “NOOOO!’ is the best.IMG_1599-1