Man’s best friend is truly man’s best friend, according to new research that shows humans really do love dogs more than other people.
It seems humans are more moved by the suffering of dogs than people, after a study found battered dogs elicited more empathy from the populace than abused humans.
Scientists say this may be because animals are more helpless than humans and less able to defend themselves.
In scientific evidence that people love to love the underdog, scientists described a report about an attack ‘with a baseball bat by an unknown assailant’ and each time the victim changed.
Professor Jack Levin and Professor Arnold Arluke, from Northeastern University in Boston examined the opinions of 240 people who received one of four fictional news articles.
The victim changed in each article, which read:
Arriving on the scene a few minutes after the attack, a police officer found the victim with one broken leg, multiple lacerations, and unconscious. No arrests have been made in the case.
One case concerned the beating of a one-year-old child and the second documented the abuse of an adult in his thirties. The other two were about a puppy and a six-year-old dog.
The difference in empathy between child and puppy was ‘statistically non-significant’, but the dog garnered more feeling than the adult, researchers found.
The researchers wrote:
Respondents were significantly less distressed when adult humans were victimised.
Professor Levin told the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association:
The fact adult human crime victims receive less empathy than do child, puppy, and full-grown dog victims suggests adult dogs are regarded as dependent and vulnerable not unlike their younger canine counterparts and kids.
In addition, it appears that adult humans are viewed as capable of protecting themselves while full-grown dogs are just seen as larger puppies. These are animals [including cats] to which many individuals attribute human characteristics.
The research was supported by a UK medical research charity which staged two phoney donation campaigns – one for a dog and the other featuring a man. Of course, the pooch drew more contributions.
The campaign for Harrison asked:
Would you give £5 to save Harrison from a slow, painful death?
To be fair, when loyal dogs do stuff like this for their owners, you can kind of see why humans appreciate the pure and attentive attention of puppets to people.