How many times has a friend said to you, “He loves the dog more than me.” I can remember childhood road trips where my father would only pull over for the beloved family dog to go the bathroom, while we had to hold it. And we have all read the articles on couples going through a divorce fighting over who gets the family dog.
Read also: “If Humans Acted Like Dogs“
Well it turns out the science community has finally proven the theory that we love our dogs more than other humans. Yes, you read that correctly, humans show more empathy to their four legged best friends, than other humans. Are you shocked? Well you shouldn’t be, all you have to do is think back and remember all the times your dog got more attention than you.
Ok, so how did science prove the fact that we show more empathy to dogs than humans? Well it was a brilliantly simple experiment designed by researchers from the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, at Northeastern University. In the experiment researchers presented 240 students with fake newspaper clippings featuring a police report about an attack on a person or a dog. The fake report stated that the victim was attacked “with a baseball bat by an unknown assailant,” and was left unconscious “with one broken leg” and “multiple lacerations”. Each participant was given the same report with the victim being either a one-year-old baby, a 30-year-old adult, a puppy,or a six-year-old dog. Then they were asked about how they felt using questions to measure their levels of empathy.
The results floored the researchers who hypothesized the participants would show more empathy based on age, meaning that they would choose to show more empathy to the one-year-old baby and the puppy. But the researchers hypothesis was proven incorrect by the results of the experiment. In fact, the participants chose to show almost equal empathy levels for the puppy, the one-year-old baby and the older dog. The participants showed a low level of empathy for the 30 year old adult.
So what does this all mean? Well it means if you’re a grown adult you may want to look elsewhere for empathy, because you’re not going to get it from dog lovers. In fact researchers stated the following, “Subjects did not view their dogs as animals, but rather as ‘fur babies’, or family members alongside human children,” showing how people often think of their pets as part of the family. And most likely their favorites of the family, hence why my father would only pull over for the dog on road trips and couples’ lawyers fight over who gets the dog in a divorce.
Recently, another research team discovered how dogs manipulate humans with facial expressions, you know those damn adorable puppy eyes that seem to melt our hearts. Well it turns out that dogs only use those expressions on humans, not other dogs or animals. So basically, between the two studies, we at Digital Doggy are convinced that dogs have figured out how to become the most beloved family members. All it took was a pair of puppy eyes and a wagging tail!