News and Commentary

STUDY: Humans Love Dogs More Than Other People

For any cat people out there, now is the time to leave the room.

Humans love dogs more than their fellow man — and especially cats. OK, we made up the part about cats, but people really do love dogs more than other people, according to two major studies.

A report in the Times of London showed that people have more empathy for canines in bad circumstances than they do for suffering humans.

Two years ago Harrison’s Fund, a medical research charity, tried an experiment. It printed two adverts, both of which asked: “Would you give £5 to save Harrison from a slow, painful death?” The only difference was, in one of the adverts Harrison was a human, in the other he was a dog.

Would anyone be surprised to learn that Harrison the dog got significantly more clicks than Harrison the human? Certainly not the researchers behind a recent study into human-dog empathy. They found that people are consistently more distressed by reports of dogs being beaten up than they are by the same reports about adult humans.

For the research, published in the journal Society & Animals, they presented 240 students with a fake newspaper clipping. The doggy got more contributions.

Then a Northeastern University study showed that only a baby human could compete with man’s best friend, the New York Post reports.

Students were showed fake newspaper clippings about a baseball-bat attack on a puppy, an adult dog, a year-old infant and 30-year-old adult. They were asked questions to gauge their empathy and the adult finished last in sympathy.

“Respondents were significantly less distressed when adult humans were victimized, in comparison with human babies, puppies and adult dogs,” according to Northeastern researchers. “Only relative to the infant victim did the adult dog receive lower scores of empathy.”

And again, cats are right out.