According To A Study, People Are More Empathetic To Dogs Than To Other People
If you're a dog owner, you can probably confirm that you care so much more about your furry friend, than you care about other people. It's not just you. This study shows that humans are more empathetic towards dogs than towards their fellow humans.
Pets are part of the family, and if you're a pet owner yourself, you can probably confirm it. When your pet suffers, you suffer with them, and when you lose a pet, it's the same as losing a person.
And it's not just you. According to a study on human-dog empathy, humans are more empathetic towards dogs than towards other people. The researchers at Northeastern University Boston and the University of Colorado Boulder collected and studied data from 240 participants aged 18-25. They analyzed and compared the intensity of empathy towards a dog, a baby, and an adult.
The results showed that only children triggered a more empathetic response than dogs. Compared to other adults, dogs drew more empathy from those who participated in the study.
The participants in the study were given a fake newspaper report. The article described an attack "with a baseball bat by an unknown assailant", noting that "Arriving on the scene a few minutes after the attack, a police officer found the victim with one broken leg, multiple lacerations, and unconscious." There four different such reports, that differed in the description of who the victim was. In two of the reports, the victims were humans - a one-year-old or an adult, while in the other two, the victims were dogs - a puppy, or a six-year-old adult dog.
After reading the report, the participants were asked to answer some specific questions, measuring the empathy intensity toward the victim and the level of emotional distress they felt due to this criminal act.
The level of upsetting emotion was roughly equal when the victim was the baby, the puppy, and the adult dog. The participants were empathic toward the adult human but to a significantly lower degree. Also, the female participants were a lot more empathetic toward all victims, regardless of species.
The researchers concluded that many people think of their dogs as members of their families. "Subjects did not view their dogs as animals, but rather as 'fur babies', or family members alongside human children." They also believe that people are more likely to feel empathy if they consider the victims to be helpless and unable to look after themselves.