A new study revealed that dogs are more likely to bite people who are emotionally unstable, granting some sense of truth to the notion that they can "smell fear."
An artificial intelligence-powered device that can translate dog barks into English words is under development, but it is still far from being released to the public. For now, we simply can't ask a dog if it is planning to bite us, so knowing what exposes people to the highest risk of getting bitten will have to do.
Dogs Bite People Who Are Emotionally Unstable
A new study by researchers from the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom, published in the BMJ Journals, investigated the true prevalence and risk factors of dog bites. To gather the necessary information, a survey was carried out in the county of Cheshire, where 694 people in 385 households responded.
The researchers discovered that the official estimates for dog bite incidents in the United Kingdom are far lower compared to the actual number of incidents. By extrapolating the number of dog bite incidents in Cheshire to apply to the general UK population, the researchers came up with a figure of 18.7 dog bites per 1,000 people every year. This is nearly three times higher compared to the official figure of 7.5 dog bites per 1,000 people every year in the country.
Part of the reason why a significant number of dog bite incidents are not being reported is because of the nature of the people who suffer them. The respondents of the survey were also asked to fill out a 10-item personality test, and when this information was connected to the dog bite incidents, a pattern emerged.
There is an apparent link between dog bites and respondents who scored the lowest in the emotional stability component of the personality test. The more emotionally unstable a person, the higher the chance he or she will be bitten by a dog.
"Our findings suggest that the less anxious, irritable and depressed a person is, the less likely they are to have been bitten," said Carri Westgarth, the lead author of the study and a research fellow at the Department of Epidemiology and Population Health of the University of Liverpool.
Other Risk Factors For Dog Bites
The survey also revealed other factors that increased the risk of getting bitten by a dog. Men, compared to women, were almost twice as likely to be bitten, while dog owners were three times more likely compared to those who do not have a dog. Just below 55 percent of the people who got bitten by a dog said that they had never met the dog before the incident.