If you’re not a dog lover yourself, chances are you know at least a dozen people who are nuts about dogs. Most people view their pets as a member of their family, and they mourn their loss like they would mourn for another person.
It seems like our love for dogs transcends logic. Some people would give their own lives to save their pets! This relationship works both ways, though. Dogs love their owners fiercely, and there are countless news stories of heroic dogs putting their lives in danger to save their human.
Research collected at Northeastern University’s Brudnick Centre on Violence and Conflict in Boston sheds more light on our pure relationship to dogs. It may come as no surprise to some of you that their findings prove that human to dog relationships are much stronger than human to human relationships.
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.
Jack Levin and Arnold Arluke, the co-authors of this study, were amazed by their findings. In order to measure the levels of empathy of the 240 subjects, they handed out fictional news stories about the abuse of a 6-year-old dog, a puppy, a toddler, and an adult in their 30s.
All of the fake stories reported that a policeman found the victim unconscious with a broken leg and deep cuts. The story also cited that the criminal had not yet been caught.
The results of the study showed that the puppy and the toddler evoked more sympathy than the adult. The researchers concluded that the reason why this may be because animals and children are innocent and helpless.
Levin believes that adult dogs may be viewed as bigger puppies, which means they are just as dependent and helpless. Adults tend to be viewed as independent, which means they are better equipped to take care of themselves.
Levin and Arluke hypothesize that our empathy for dogs extends to all pets, like cats and rabbits.
So what do you think about this study? Do you also prefer the company of animals to humans? As an empath, I certainly do!