For so many people, dogs are more than just animals: they are valued members of the family. But for many people, there is more of sympathy toward dogs than there is for a fellow human. Which really begs an important question; do people love dogs more than they love their people? This is what researchers set out to answer in a recent study that looked at the sympathy humans have for dogs versus the sympathy they feel for human beings.
The study was held by the Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts and by the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado. What they discovered was that people actually do have stronger feelings for dogs than people. The study, which was recently published in a journal called Society and Animals, surveyed approximately 256 undergraduate students. The students were shown fake news stories that contained police reports about either a puppy, dog, human, infant, child, human, or human adult that had been brutally beaten.
There were a number of experiments held, but one of them was where students read reports about a victim, left unconscious with a broken leg and multiple lacerations after being attacked with a baseball bat by an unknown assailant. The victim varied, from a baby to an adult to a puppy or an adult dog. Then, students were asked to answer a series of questions in order to measure empathy. The results showed that people had significantly more sympathy for dogs including puppies and adult dogs. The reason was that they felt humans had the ability to defend themselves, while dogs are defenseless and therefore more worthy of sympathy.
Empathy is a strong emotion and one that we feel for all those who are facing terrible circumstances, but at the end of the day it’s clear that the love humans feel for dogs is very, very strong!