In Brief

Humans actually do love dogs more than people

When it comes to distress, people were more likely to feel empathy towards the ‘fur babies’ than to other people

Dogs truly are man’s best friend, as two new studies reveal humans have more empathy for the furry creatures than for other people.

Two separate studies found people are more likely to empathise with dogs than humans, 

In one of the studies, conducted by two Northeastern University lecturers in Boston, 240 participants were given one of four fake newspaper articles, says The Independent.

Each article described an attack with a baseball bat and a police officer subsequently finding a victim severely battered and bruised. In four variations of the stories, the victim was either a one-year-old infant, an adult, a puppy, or a six-year-old adult dog. 

After being asked to describe their emotions, participants expressed more empathy after reading a story about a child, puppy, or dog, but less empathy towards the adult human. Overall, only a human infant was more sympathetic than an adult dog.

“Subjects did not view their dogs as animals, but rather as ‘fur babies’, or family members alongside human children,” the researchers wrote in the Society & Animals journal, where their study was published.

Harrison’s Fund, a medical research charity, conducted an experiment in 2015 where they printed two adverts asking the same question: “Would you give £5 to save Harrison from a slow, painful death?” 

When the ad showed Harrison pictured as a dog, compared to showing Harrison pictured as a boy, the company received more donations.

A different study published last month in the Scientific Reports Journal, discovered that one reason people might enjoy the company of dogs than humans is because canines make more facial movements when receiving human attention, Business Insider Australia says.

The study found that dog's raise their eyebrows and make their eyes bigger when looking for attention, and the presence of treats had no impact on their behaviour, leading one researcher to conclude that their expressions are responsive to humans, not just other dogs. 

The findings came as no surprise to Twitter users:

One user pointed out a key reason she picks dogs over humans.

Recommended

The history of Pride
People celebrating Pride in London
In Depth

The history of Pride

The countries that have banned conversion therapy
Conversion therapy protest
Why we’re talking about . . .

The countries that have banned conversion therapy

‘Playground insults’: what world leaders have said about Vladimir Putin
G7 leaders
Getting to grips with . . .

‘Playground insults’: what world leaders have said about Vladimir Putin

Quiz of The Week
Protesters outside US Supreme Court
Quizzes and puzzles

Quiz of The Week

Popular articles

Are we heading for World War Three?
Ukrainian soldiers patrol on the frontline in Zolote, Ukraine
In Depth

Are we heading for World War Three?

Nato vs. Russia: who would win in a war?
Nato troops
Today’s big question

Nato vs. Russia: who would win in a war?

What happened to Logan Mwangi?
Tributes left to Logan Mwangi
Today’s big question

What happened to Logan Mwangi?

The Week Footer Banner