About this Research Topic
The importance of emotions lies in their being a powerful and spontaneous means of nonverbal communication between individuals of the same or different species. Emotions induce physiological and behavioral changes that are modulated by the subjectivity of the individual. Personality, temperament, and experiences are crucial determinants in emotional expression. For these reasons, understanding and measuring emotions is a highly relevant research issue in animal welfare for livestock production, medical research using animal models, and as a sustainable model for human emotional disorders in a “One Health” and “One Welfare” perspective that integrates expertise from animal and human physiology, behavioral sciences, and social sciences.
Positive emotions with low arousal levels are recognized as positive welfare indicators that can improve livestock productivity. Understanding negative emotions and high arousal could help to identify indicators of compromised animal welfare and therefore may be important for guiding ethical decision making in farming systems and for evaluating the ethics of animal use for research and other purposes. Moreover, assisted interventions (in human care) lack a robust emotional transfer model which could guarantee both the ethical use of animals and a deeper understanding of the emotional exchange between animal and human patient, thus possibly defining the animal as co-therapist.
A crucial aspect of the study of animal emotions is the implementation of non-invasive methods to measure both physiological (related to the autonomic nervous system) and behavioral (such as body posture and movements, vocal emissions, facial expressions) parameters. Furthermore, defining and measuring emotions could reveal psychological impairment in animals, such as depression and anxiety. This research focus could provide new contributions toward understanding these pathologies with a comparative perspective on the human being. To date animal models have been developed only in the limited environment of the research laboratory.
This Research Topic is focused on the implementation of experimental methods and designs that measure and expand our understanding of emotions and their communicative value between subjects of the same or different species. Research and review articles addressing the following areas are welcome:
• Development of new methodologies and investigative paradigms in the study of emotions sensu lato, and the animal-animal and animal-human emotional contagion
• The empowering of emotions and their transmission between animals and humans, within a One Health–One Welfare perspective
• Definitions of physiological and behavioral parameters which can improve the understanding of emotional transfer, using non-invasive methodologies
• Evaluation of the influence of individuality, with special focus on early experiences related to training and management systems in animals
• Implementation studies to verify the presence of emotional disorders in animals such as depression and anxiety, in both natural and laboratory settings.
*Photo: "Camargue Horses" by Luca Bracci*
Keywords: emotions, emotional interplay, one health
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.