By. Anuradha

You must have seen so many people who are madly in love with dogs. If you are not a dog lover and do not own a dog, you might have often wondered what makes these people love their dogs that much. They consider their puppy to be apart of their family and will grieve a lot if they happened to be apart of them. A recent study also found out that humans get more upset by stories of dogs being beaten up or hurt and the important thing is that they would not feel the same empathy towards a human who has undergone the same conditions.

Many dogs are loyal to their masters and they would shower their masters with unconditional love. Their selfless love will create a strong bond between them and their masters and therefore, it is natural that many people feel more about their dogs than how they feel for other fellow humans.

Writing to the journal Society and Animals, the team from North-eastern University Boston and the University of Colorado Boulder explained that only children will elicit more of an empathetic response under certain conditions than dogs.

The co-authors collected data from 240 participants aged 18-25. They studied the intensity of empathy felt towards a dog, a baby, and an adult. You probably won’t feel shocked to learn that the dog and baby drew more empathy from the participants than the adult.

Their study involved giving each of a sample of 256 college students one of four fake newspaper reports. The articles described an attack “with a baseball bat by an unknown assailant.” It then continued the description by noting, “Arriving on the scene a few minutes after the attack, a police officer found the victim with one broken leg, multiple lacerations, and unconscious”. The only way that each of these “news reports” differed was in its description of who the victim was. The victim could have been one of two humans — a one-year-old infant or, alternatively, a 30-year-old adult. The victim could also have been one of two dogs — a puppy or a six-year-old adult.

After reading the article, each participant answered a set of questions measuring their empathy toward the victim and the degree to which this criminal act evoked a distressing emotional response in them.

The results showed that the levels of upsetting emotion which resulted when the victim was the baby, the puppy, or the adult dog were roughly equivalent. The adult human victim was empathized with but to a significantly lesser degree. (Female participants were significantly more empathetic toward all victims, regardless of species.)

They concluded that many people consider dogs as equal to human members of their family.

“Subjects did not view their dogs as animals, but rather as ‘fur babies’, or family members alongside human children,” they wrote.

They also suggest that we’re more likely to feel empathy for a victim if we consider them to be helpless and unable to look after themselves.

There is no doubt that all the empaths would agree with the results of the study. Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below. 

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