Two new studies indicate that people generally have more empathy for dogs than they do for other people.
Research conducted by a UK medical research charity and Northeastern University suggests people respond more emphatically to dogs than fellow humans.
A UK medical research charity staged two phony donation campaigns — one for a dog and the other featuring a man.
Of course, the pooch drew more contributions.
“Would you give 5 pounds to save Harrison from a slow, painful death?” the separate ads said, featuring a canine and human “Harrison.”
Could our love for furry friends extend beyond our love for each other?
The Northeastern University study abstract reads:
Two hundred and fifty-six undergraduates at a major northeastern university were asked to indicate their degree of empathy for a brutally beaten human adult or child versus an adult dog or puppy, as described in a fictitious news report. We hypothesized that the vulnerability of victims—determined by their age and not species—would determine participants’ levels of distress and concern for them.
The main effect for age but not for species was significant. We also found more empathy for victims who are human children, puppies, and fully-grown dogs than for victims who are adult humans. Age makes a difference for empathy toward human victims, but not for dog victims. In addition, female participants were significantly more empathic toward all victims than were their male counterparts.