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Longtime lovers communicate the same way they would with babies — and dogs

Married couples communicate as though they are talking to babies or dogs, according to a study published last month in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science.
Married couples communicate as though they are talking to babies or dogs, according to a study published last month in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science.

They’re mutts about each other.

Married couples communicate as though they are talking to babies or dogs, according to a study published last month in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science.

The study authors recruited 46 Hungarian married people with a dog and an infant. Researchers took note of participants’ facial expressions and emotions while talking to their partner, child and dog.

Couples tend to talk to each other in “motherese,” essentially “baby talk,” and use exaggerated facial expressions.

“The way parents talk to babies and each other shares a lot of similarities in how their facial expressions are changed,” researcher Édua Koós-Hutás, from Eötvös Loránd University in Hungary, told the Daily Mail this week.

Researchers took note of participants’ facial expressions and emotions while talking to their partner, child and dog. Getty Images/iStockphoto
Researchers took note of participants’ facial expressions and emotions while talking to their partner, child and dog. Getty Images/iStockphoto

“This similarity could stem from the emotional closeness and bonding and help create a sincere and focused atmosphere when they talk,” Koós-Hutás added.

The study found that people talking to their dog and reading a nursery rhyme to their baby exhibited similarly pronounced facial muscle movements.

They didn’t display the same behavior while talking to strangers, the researchers found.

Scientists think the style of communication can strengthen bonds and maintain attention. Getty Images
Scientists think the style of communication can strengthen bonds and maintain attention. Getty Images

Exaggerated facial expressions — such as wide eyes, bared teeth and raised eyebrows — are used with babies and dogs so they can understand what is being said beyond language.

Scientists believe exaggerated expressions are also a way to bond and to keep and hold someone’s attention.