I think we all know someone who seems to get a long better with their pets, than they do humans. This is a real thing folks. So real, that researchers from Northeastern University wanted to dig deeper into the reasons behind this phenomenon and found that some people appreciate and feel more compassion for dogs than for other human beings. This is especially true in circumstances of abuse.
The study, which was published in the journal, was conducted by researchers Jack Levin and Arnold Arluke. They duo wanted to understand why some people care more about dogs than they do other humans. The experiment focused on testing whether people were more distressed by animal abuse or by that of another person. An interesting way to go about the study, surely.
Starting out as just a theory, researchers thought that the age of the victim would be the major factor in the fluctuation of distressed caused by the ‘abuse’. However, they determined that in addition to age, the actual species of the victim was a major factor.
240 students were asked to share their level of empathy during unusual situations like an adult or child being severely beaten with a baseball bat or a puppy or adult dog also being abused.
All of the scenarios were reported as ‘news’ for the studies participants, but all articles were false and written specifically for the experiment.
Those who read the stories of the child, the puppy, and the adult dog exhibited more anguish and compassion than those who read just the one about the adult.
The authors of the study concluded that humans tend to be more disturbed when it comes to animals suffering, over humans experiencing pain. The only exception to their finding was when the abuse of a child was involved. The researchers believe that this may be, because humans feel that animals are helpless in regards to abuse, no matter their age. When it comes to humans, children are viewed as helpless, while adults are not and are able to defend themselves.
The study found that the age of the victim is a crucial factor for the reaction of people seeing humans being abused, but not for dogs or animals being mistreated. It also revealed that humans are more prone to show empathy if the victims aren’t able to defend themselves.
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