People have more empathy for battered dogs than human adult, but not child, victims

Aug 10, 2013

People have more empathy for battered puppies and full grown dogs than they do for some humans—adults, but not children, finds new research to be presented at the 108th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.

"Contrary to popular thinking, we are not necessarily more disturbed by animal rather than human suffering," said Jack Levin, the Irving and Betty Brudnick Professor of Sociology and Criminology at Northeastern University. "Our results indicate a much more complex situation with respect to the age and species of , with age being the more important component. The fact that adult human receive less than do child, puppy, and full grown dog victims suggests that adult dogs are regarded as dependent and vulnerable not unlike their younger canine counterparts and kids."

In their study, Levin and co-author Arnold Arluke, a sociology professor at Northeastern University, considered the opinions of 240 men and women, most of whom were white and between the ages of 18-25, at a large northeastern university. Participants randomly received one of four fictional news articles about the beating of a one-year-old child, an adult in his thirties, a puppy, or a 6-year-old dog. The stories were identical except for the victim's identify. After reading their story, respondents were asked to rate their feelings of empathy towards the victim.

"We were surprised by the interaction of age and species," Levin said. "Age seems to trump species, when it comes to eliciting empathy. In addition, it appears that adult humans are viewed as capable of protecting themselves while full grown dogs are just seen as larger puppies."

Interestingly, the researchers found that the difference in empathy for children versus was statistically non-significant.

As for considering the opinions of 240 college students, Levin said it is common practice to use homogenous samples for studies such as his that center around an experiment. "Unlike survey research, experiments usually employ a homogenous sample in order to establish a cause and effect relationship rather than to generalize a large population," Levin said. "However, there is really no reason to believe that our results would differ very much nationally, particularly among college students."

While the study focused on dogs and humans, Levin thinks the findings would be similar for cats and people as well. "Dogs and cats are family pets," he said. "These are animals to which many individuals attribute human characteristics."

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More information: The paper, "Are People More Disturbed by Animal or Human Suffering? Assessing the Influence of Victim's Species and Age on Empathy," will be presented on Saturday, Aug. 10, at 8:30 a.m. EDT in New York City at the American Sociological Association's 108th Annual Meeting.

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User comments : 24

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Ophelia
4.2 / 5 (5) Aug 10, 2013
Why didn't they have a fictitious story about a dependent adult being beaten?

This was a stupid study. All it shows is that people have more empathy for those perceived unable to care for themselves than for caregivers who are perceived to be able to care for themselves. I suspect that the difference is dependency, not age, hence my question.

Is anyone besides the researchers surprised by this?
Gmr
3.3 / 5 (7) Aug 10, 2013
"However, there is really no reason to believe that our results would differ very much nationally, particularly among college students."
While the study focused on dogs and humans, Levin thinks the findings would be similar for cats and people as well. "Dogs and cats are family pets," he said. "These are animals to which many individuals attribute human characteristics."


Yeah, quotes like the above assume a lot, and indicate sloppy research methods and extrapolation way beyond actual observed results and sample size. I wonder how this would fare in countries where animals are seen as unclean, or cats are seen as vermin, and so-on. If anything it argues that there is an area to explore with regard to projection on other victims with helplessness a major factor, not age.
DarkHorse66
5 / 5 (1) Aug 12, 2013
On the other hand, a pet (most commonly a dog or cat) is not infrequently seen as, and treated as a substitute child, where the 'real thing' is not present. They tend not to mature past a stage that is (relatively) equivalent to that of a human toddler.They stay dependent on you for life; I hardly think that a dog (even a 'working' one) is likely to take an appropriate amount of money down to the local store and choose which can of food he would like tonite - or count the change. On the other hand, there is this....
http://www.examin...eo-again
http://www.youtub...vU530g2o

I guess that some dogs HAVE figured where their dinner comes from... :)
Cheers, DH66
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) Aug 12, 2013
f anything it argues that there is an area to explore with regard to projection on other victims with helplessness a major factor, not age.

My first thoughts exactly when I read this article.
If they had replaced the adult in the test series with a mentally handicapped adult they might have gotten an different answer.
Sinister1811
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 12, 2013
I'm guilty of this, I guess. I have more empathy for suffering animals. I just find them to be more tolerable, trustworthy and less likely to stab you in the back at the end of the day.
Noumenon
2.5 / 5 (16) Aug 12, 2013
I'm guilty of this, I guess. I have more empathy for suffering animals. I just find them to be more tolerable, trustworthy and less likely to stab you in the back at the end of the day.


Yes, just as a shrubbery is more tolerable, trustworthy and less likely to stab you in the back.

Levin thinks the findings would be similar for cats and people as well. "Dogs and cats are family pets," he said. "These are animals to which many individuals attribute human characteristics."


Liberals attribute more human characteristics to cats than to unborn human beings.
Noumenon
2.3 / 5 (15) Aug 12, 2013
The fact that adult human crime victims receive less empathy than do child, puppy, and full grown dog victims suggests that adult dogs are regarded as dependent and vulnerable not unlike their younger canine counterparts and kids."


Interesting. This may explain why liberals are more sympathetic to criminals than to law abiding gun owners, and why they're more sympathetic to minorities and welfare recipients, as they're perceived by liberals as intrinsically inferior and who's policies have made them dependent on government, not unlike a domesticated dog.
Yenaldlooshi
4.5 / 5 (2) Aug 12, 2013
Animals only do what animals do. Only Humans are the major pain in the ass.
antialias_physorg
4 / 5 (8) Aug 12, 2013
This may explain why liberals are more sympathetic to criminals than to law abiding gun owners

Well, that part I can understand. Most criminals don't contemplate killing a human. Gun owners do. So yeah: 'law abiding' gun owners are the greater evil ni that regard.
Noumenon
2.3 / 5 (15) Aug 12, 2013
This may explain why liberals are more sympathetic to criminals than to law abiding gun owners

Well, that part I can understand. Most criminals don't contemplate killing a human. Gun owners do. So yeah: 'law abiding' gun owners are the greater evil ni that regard.


Yes, of course you're a liberal. Absurd statement considering the definiton of 'criminal' and 'law abiding', the latter of which seek to have a defense against the former. Defending one self is not criminal.

Regular law abiding citizens do not seek to kill people in general, only those who aim to harm them. In fact gun or no gun, every human will defend their life by killing another if it came to that.

Gun control is the liberal way of protecting home invaders from law abiding home owners. Liberal stupidity and mush-headedness is criminally dangerous to society.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (5) Aug 12, 2013
Absurd statement considering the definiton of 'criminal' and 'law abiding',

I guess you don't understand the difference between a justice system and a just system. And that it's more important that people have a just mindset than that they follow the letter of the law.

And when it comes to person X wanting to steal and person Y wanting to kill then that's a different quality in mindset - no matter that X is not within the letter of the law and Y is.

(Don't get me wrong: both mindsets are unjust. Neither should be acceptable within a society. But one is infinitely more so than the other. )

every human will defend their life

If that means 'shoot first and ask questions later' then that's meaningless. As I said: The number of 'law abiding citizens' who are actively threatened with being killed is pretty low to non-existent (because - and this may confuse you - there's nothing in it for a criminal)
Noumenon
2.6 / 5 (17) Aug 12, 2013


And when it comes to person X wanting to steal and person Y wanting to kill then that's a different quality in mindset - no matter that X is not within the letter of the law and Y is.


Who gets to decide if the home invader "only wanted to steal". Should the home owner ask him? Are you seriously inflicted with liberalism that much, that you can't see the logic can be applied the other way,.... that the home owner merely wanted to defend his family, not to kill as a core motivation?!

Here is an interesting statistic for you,...... 100% of criminals commit murder, while 0% of law abiding citizens do so.

Defense of ones life is not criminal. You're willing to make assumptions upon gun owners (that they WANT to kiill), but don't want them to make assumptions of the motive of home invaders.
antialias_physorg
3.4 / 5 (5) Aug 12, 2013
Who gets to decide if the home invader "only wanted to steal".

It's sort of the point of going into a home (uninvited) that doesn't belong to you - don't you think?
People don't break into homes to kill just for the fun of it (you're watching too many movies).

100% of criminals commit murder

That's an interesting statistic (and pulled entirely out of your arse), since there are a lot of things that make you a criminal besides comitting murder. I'll call "logic fail" on that.

while 0% of law abiding citizens do so.

Again: What is legal and what is just aren't exactly the same thing.

Defense of ones life is not criminal.

And no one would argue otherwise (least of all me or any other 'liberal' that ever lived). But there is such a thing as disproportionate response. Shooting someone because they look at you funny (or even stand in your home carrying your TV out the door) is disproportionate in the extreme. It's a sick mindset.
Noumenon
2.6 / 5 (17) Aug 12, 2013
Who gets to decide if the home invader "only wanted to steal".


It's sort of the point of going into a home (uninvited) that doesn't belong to you - don't you think?
People don't break into homes to kill just for the fun of it (you're watching too many movies).


You're being purposely obtuse. The criminal invader wants to get away with it, and will do whatever is necessary to get away with it. How much injury and threat is the innocent home owner obligated to take out of concern for the criminal invader,... even though the criminal invader has obviously shown no concern for the home owner.

The act of invading into ones home is itself a threat of the highest order. The innocent home owner is under no obligation to presume less than their life being threatened,... in fact it is an intrinsic survival instinct to do so.
Noumenon
2.8 / 5 (16) Aug 12, 2013
100% of criminals commit murder


That's an interesting statistic (and pulled entirely out of your arse), since there are a lot of things that make you a criminal besides comitting murder. I'll call "logic fail" on that.


I see you took the easy route. I did not correct that statement, though I did noticed it was worded as if from a blender, because I thought the meaning would have been obvious.

100% of murders are criminals, while 0% of law abiding citizens gun owners are.
Noumenon
2.6 / 5 (17) Aug 12, 2013
Defense of ones life is not criminal.


And no one would argue otherwise (least of all me or any other 'liberal' that ever lived).


Then why state that law abiding gun owners are the greater "evil" than criminals? How does the innocent home owner with a gun suppose to know the motivations or reactions to being caught of the criminal invader?

But there is such a thing as disproportionate response. Shooting someone because they look at you funny (or even stand in your home carrying your TV out the door) is disproportionate in the extreme. It's a sick mindset.


It's a sick mindset to be willing to make such presumptions of evil intent about a free innocent gun owner... and be willing to make the innocent gun owners natural response to a threat contingent upon giving the criminal invader the benefit of the doubt, for the criminals benefit and not his own. That's fuk'ed up liberalism for ya.

What you described is a criminal act.
Noumenon
2.6 / 5 (17) Aug 12, 2013
Gun control does not work on crimnals, by definition, only law abiding citizens. Liberals wish to remove guns from law abiding citizens to protect the criminal. That is the epitome of failed logic.

Liberals care more about the treatment of cats than the unborn human,.... they think merely passing through the vag conveys some magical life force upon the "biological form" making only the a human. Liberalism is sick.
cantdrive85
1.9 / 5 (13) Aug 12, 2013
Apparently, it's not a "disproportionate response" to illegally violate ones person or property. It's completely justifiable!?!?!?
Noumenon
2.8 / 5 (18) Aug 12, 2013
Shooting someone because they look at you funny (or even stand in your home carrying your TV out the door) is disproportionate in the extreme. It's a sick mindset


As a liberal you're willing to presume such behavior on the part of a free innocent gun owner, but go out of your way NOT to do so on the part of the crimnal home invader. Liberalism is sickness. Transparent hypocrite.
Noumenon
2.8 / 5 (18) Aug 12, 2013
War is never "proportionate" if there is to be a victor. The police never use proportionate force against criminals.

Only a liberal would want to make it "fair" for the criminal.
Noumenon
3 / 5 (18) Aug 12, 2013
Shooting someone because they [...] stand in your home carrying your TV out the door is disproportionate in the extreme.


If only the home owner would just let the criminal steal the TV out the door in peace, without killing him, a life would be saved, .....the liberal says.

If only the liberal would just let the fetus steal the mothers nourishment in peace, without killing him, a life would be saved,... the liberal won't say.

Liberals have more empathy for criminals and cats than unborn humans and innocent gun owners minding their own business in their home.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.7 / 5 (11) Aug 12, 2013
It's sort of the point of going into a home (uninvited) that doesn't belong to you - don't you think?
People don't break into homes to kill just for the fun of it
No, often it is to rape you and kidnap your children. And it is only prudent to kill witnesses yes?

People do kill for fun and status.

"A 61-year-old Good Samaritan was shot in the eye near the Renaissance Center Monday morning, according to WWJ's Citybeat Reporter Vickie Thomas. The shooting took place at Atwater Street and St. Antoine, just east of the the RenCen, when the unidentified man pulled over to assist a woman who appeared to be crying, police told Thomas. At that point, two men shot the man. He is listed in critical condition at Detroit Receiving Hospital, according to the Free Press. The two men who attacked him fled the scene."

-A working theory is that this was a gang initiation setup. More?

"Document: Home Invasion, Shooting May Have Been Gang Initiation: 17-Year-Old Mason Carter Accused Of Crimes"
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.7 / 5 (11) Aug 12, 2013
More?

"JOHNSTON, R.I. — A 2-year-old boy kidnapped during a double homicide Sunday morning was found wandering the streets of Providence last night, apparently unharmed, according to Johnston police...The incident began with a 911 call at 5:20 a.m. Sunday reporting a disturbance at 3 Oaktree Drive in Johnston...When police arrived, they discovered two bodies on the floor, along with two older children who were physically unharmed. The victims' identities will not be released until an examination by the medical examiner is complete, Parrillo said."
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.8 / 5 (10) Aug 12, 2013
(or even stand in your home carrying your TV out the door) is disproportionate in the extreme. It's a sick mindset
Criminals should understand that theirs is the most dangerous occupation.

"Texas Penal Code - Section 9.42. Deadly Force To Protect Property

§ 9.42. DEADLY FORCE TO PROTECT PROPERTY. A person is
justified in using deadly force against another to protect land or
tangible, movable property:
(1) if he would be justified in using force against the
other under Section 9.41; and
(2) when and to the degree he reasonably believes the
deadly force is immediately necessary:
(A) to prevent the other's imminent commission of
arson, burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, theft during the
nighttime, or criminal mischief during the nighttime; or
(B) to prevent the other who is fleeing
immediately after committing burglary, robbery, aggravated
robbery, or theft during the nighttime from escaping with the
property"

-They used to hang horse thieves.