According to a study published in Society and Animals, humans actually have more pity and emotion when a dog is in trouble, rather than when a human is in trouble. The study was made by researchers at Northwestern University. The researchers gathered 240 undergraduate subjects between the age of 18 and 23. Then they gave a series of made up newspaper stories about a senseless attack. In the stories, it was either dogs or people that were the victims. It seemed that people felt more when the victims were dogs.
The details were consistent, only the text was randomized and it would mention four kinds of victims. An adult human, a 1-year old infant, a 6-year old dog, and a puppy. The researchers suspected that the victim’s age and not the species would determine the empathy that the participant felt for them. When the numbers came in, the participants were most upset on attacks on the infant, followed by the puppy and the older dog, while the adult human got the lowest score.
“Age makes a difference for empathy toward human victims, but not for dog victims,” the researchers wrote. It also seemed that female participants, which made up three quarters of the group, were more sympathetic to all the victims, rather than male participants. The researchers say that results were taken from the perceived helplessness of the victims, which made the children and puppies the most they would empathize with. It also seemed that concern for babies and puppies were almost the same.