What Animals Say to Each Other When They Play
A Sentience Article from All-Creatures.org

FROM Marc Bekoff, Psychology Today/Animal Emotions
June 2021

New research shows vocalizations are a widespread mode of play signaling.

Dogs playing

I've been studying social play for decades and have always wondered what individuals might be telling each other as they're wrestling, biting, rolling around, and zooming here and there.

While we know a lot about visual signals used to initiate and maintain play such as play bows—and how they serve to punctuate play bouts—we know very little about play vocalizations and play odors and how they might be used on their own or combined into what ethologists call "composite" signals.

But now, based on research and a landmark essay called "Play vocalisations and human laughter: a comparative review" by UCLA's Sasha Winkler and Gregory Bryant, we know much more. I've been waiting for such an analysis for quite a while because it helps explain different ways in which individuals can ask each other to play and maintain ongoing fair play on the run that go beyond thinking about only visual signals. It also sets the ground for exciting future comparative research.2,3 I'm pleased Sasha could take the time to answer a few questions about their seminal work.

Here's what she had to say....



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