Goats Like It When You Smile at Them, Extremely Heartwarming Study Says

Baby goats.
Baby goats. Photo: RUDE/Getty Images/EyeEm

Empirical observation told us years ago that goats were slowly becoming the new dog, and according to a new study, they are truly qualified to be man’s best friend. On Wednesday, the Royal Society released heartwarming research showing that just like humans, goats have no desire to interact with people who come off as angry or upset, and that they’re much more attracted to those with big smiles plastered across their faces.

To better understand how well goats respond to human social cues, the scientific academy gathered 20 goats who were “habituated to human presence” from Buttercups Sanctuary for Goats in the United Kingdom. Then, the goats — 12 males, 8 females — were released into a pen decorated with images of happy and angry humans; observing from afar, the scientists timed how long the goats interacted with the different photographs, noting which expressions they preferred.

In short, the scientists learned that goats can “distinguish between happy and angry images of the same person,” and in general, they prefer their humans to be happy. (The findings also showed that were more inclined to spend time with photographs of happy people when they were on the right side of the pen, which may have something to do with a brain hemisphere bias.)

“Overall, we found that goats preferred to interact first with happy faces, meaning that they are sensitive to human facial emotional cues,” the study reads, noting that dogs and horses are also adept at perceiving the aforementioned cues.

In other news, a goat in Wales just freed 30 exotic birds by head-butting open their aviary. So … goats are the new human?

Goats Like It When You Smile at Them, Science Says