Do you love dogs? Like really love them?
When you’re watching a movie, for example, is it more important to you that none of the animal characters in the story be hurt than any of the major human characters? If you answered yes and you think that makes you cold, don’t worry—it turns out there are probably way more people out there like you than you think. That’s because there’s science to back up these opinions.
That’s right: researchers have found that humans really do love dogs more than they do people.
The research was done by professors Arnold Arluke and Jack Levin from Northeastern University in Boston.
The study was completed by gathering 240 people and having them respond to a news article. The original article 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.”
But the researchers changed the details of the article in various readings.
In some cases, the victim was a one-year-old child; in another, it was a 30-year-old man. In the other two, it was a puppy and a six-year-old dog. Can you guess what the results were? If you guessed that people cared the least about the adult man, you’d be right, but the adults were slightly more surprising than that: people cared more about bothdogs than about either of the people!
Even if these seems callous, Levin and Arluke had something of an explanation for this phenomenon.
According to them, humans’ inherent softness for dogs has to do with a hardwired protective instinct that humans have:
“The fact that 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.”
What do you think about these results?
Although Levin’s explanation seems plausible enough, does the idea that we think of bigger dogs simply as puppies mean anything to you? Because I, for one, would probably have softer feelings towards a puppy than an adult dog—and I want to say I’d have softer feelings for a human baby than an adult dog, but that one’s dicey. One thing’s for sure: that 30-year-old man is getting left out in the cold.
Tell us what you think about these results in the comments below!
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