Humans can have more empathy for dogs than their two-legged friends, a new study suggests.
The research, involving 256 undergraduates, examined whether people were more emotionally disturbed by reports of humans or dogs suffering abuse.
Participants in the study were given fictitious news reports about an unprovoked attack “with a baseball bat by an unknown assailant”.
“Arriving on the scene a few minutes after the attack, a police officer found that the victim had a broken leg, multiple lacerations and unconscious,” it said.
Different versions of the report had the victim of the attack as either a one-year-old infant, a 30-year-old man, a puppy or an adult dog.
The students were then asked questions to indicate their degree of empathy for each of the victims.
“Respondents were significantly less distressed when adult humans were victimised, in comparison with human babies, puppies and adult dogs,” the researchers said.
“Only relative to the infant victim did the adult dog …