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We empathise with dogs more than other humans, study proves

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Harvey Day
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Humans love dogs more than other people, according to science 1

It’s official - humans love dogs more than they do other people.

Research by some very serious scientists at Northeastern University in Boston has found that humans display more empathy and are more emotionally affected by the suffering of dogs.

Personally we’re not surprised, but if you need more convincing, here’s how they back up their claims:

During the study, 240 people were shown fictional news reports about an attack “with a baseball bat by an unknown assailant” and each time the victim changed.

The fake police report said: “Arriving on the scene a few minutes after the attack, a police officer found the victim with one broken leg, multiple lacerations, and unconscious. No arrests have been made in the case.” The ‘victims’ included a one-year-old child, an adult in his 30s, a puppy and a six-year-old dog.

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We empathise with dogs more than other humans, according to a new study

Unsurprisingly to dog lovers, the researchers discovered that battered dogs provoked more empathy than abused humans.

Professor Jack Levin and Professor Arnold Arluke think this could be because animals are less able to defend themselves. And they also reckon the findings would be similar with cats.

“Respondents were significantly less distressed when adult humans were victimised,” the researchers said.

Professor Levin told the American Sociological Association: “The fact adult human crime victims receive less empathy than do child, puppy, and full-grown dog victims suggests adult dogs are regarded as dependent and vulnerable not unlike their younger canine counterparts and kids.

“In addition, it appears that adult humans are viewed as capable of protecting themselves while full-grown dogs are just seen as larger puppies.”

Humans love dogs more than other people, according to science

In an earlier study, researchers from Harrison’s Fund found that people were more likely to donate money to a suffering dog than to a suffering child, according to The Times.

When asked “Would you give £5 to save Harrison from a slow, painful death?” alongside images of a young boy and a dog, it was the pup who received the most donations. 

Now when you find yourself only talking to the dog at your mate’s next party you don’t need to feel bad - science is on your side! 

(Images: iStock / Harrison’s Fund)

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Harvey Day

Digital writer for Shortlist.com / @harveyday94 / harvey.day@shortlist.com

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