More Empathy for Battered Dogs than Battered Adults


Adults have more empathy for battered dogs and puppies than they do for battered adults, according to new research to be presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association in New York City, but the difference in empathy for children and puppies is statistically non-significant.

Researchers from Northeastern University studies the responses of 240 men and women who were randomly given 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.

The respondents were primarily white and between the ages of 18 and 25 and were asked to rate their feelings of empathy towards the victim.

The full study has not yet been released, but author Jack Levin, professor of sociology and criminology at Northeastern University, said in a press release that the study’s results highlight the complexities of human responses to age and species.

“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,” Levin said.

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