What's cuter a puppy or baby

"Yes, you fine": Why do we talk to dogs like babies?

We've all caught ourselves doing that, haven't we? At the latest when we are alone with the offspring, it comes over us. We suddenly lose our ability to speak. Although - maybe losing is the wrong word. Let's say: we express ourselves differently. "Dudududu", "ohh dutschiidu", "You sweetie, hatataa" - something like that.

Only understood the train station? No problem! Because our squeaky baby already knows what's going on. The fact that our fellow human beings can do less with it doesn't matter.

But it's not just babies that we do this drivel to. Dogs are also a popular victim of our baby language. Scientists have now found out why and published it in "Proceedings B" of the British Royal Society.

Did you just squeak with rapture? By the way: The sight of such cute baby animals (pictures are enough) can promote both concentration and productivity.

The researchers suspect that the use of baby language is less of a response to a cute puppy or baby face. Rather, it is used to communicate with the other person who cannot speak or who only understands language very poorly.

Dog pictures as a contact

Tobey Ben-Aderet's team from City University in New York showed 30 women pictures of puppies, adult and old dogs and asked them to use a typical sentence to contact the virtual companions. For example, "Hello, honey, come here, good boy, that's fine."

The researchers recorded what was said in order to analyze the language characteristics later. Real dogs have not yet been used because the interaction with the test subjects would have made it difficult to analyze the language characteristics, according to the researchers.

In the second part of the experiment, the recordings were then played to dogs of different ages.

Puppies like baby talk

It was found that the test subjects addressed dogs of all ages in the same way as they would classically address babies. In puppies, however, the pitch of the voice was a tad higher.

And later it was mainly the puppies who reacted attentively to the child-friendly whispering. They jumped on the speakers faster, approached them faster, and paid their attention to them longer than the older dogs. These were less addressed by the baby language.

The researchers write that the older dogs have learned in the course of their lives to largely ignore human sounds - which do not come directly from their mistress or master.

Why are we doing this

But what on earth makes us want to keep our best friend happy with babbling? This is a general impulse when it comes to communicating with animals. These would react more to the intonation and rhythm of the spoken and less to the content, so the New York scientists assume.

A puppy face only reinforces this impulse, true to the child scheme. And so the sight of a cute Golden Retriever with its baby-like proportions and facial features triggers a protective and caring behavior in us.

hf / cb (dpa)