Recently, a report published in the Journal Society and Animals explored why it’s so much easier to feel bad for a dejected puppy than it is to feel bad for an actual dying adult human. Given the popularity of local news, the fact that we’re several horror renaissances in, and currently in the midst of a crime/serial killer obsession, it’s safe to say that Americans are pretty desensitized to adult death-in any form, (fictional, gruesome, implied, it doesn’t really phase us.) Killing an animal, on the other hand, is a sure-fire way to engineer your desired reaction.
Headed by a veteran criminologist named Jack Levin, the new study gathered that our empathy doesn’t really have all the much to do with the species in question, but the degree of perceived vulnerability. Humans find it easier to connect with things and feel sorry for things that seem helpless-see also our innate love for babies, even the ugly ones.
The authors of the report wrote, “The finding that perceived similarity, coupled with vulnerability, resulted in the highest scores among respondents offers persuasive evidence of the need to shift the scope of existing practices. We suggest that by emphasizing shared vulnerability rather than focusing on exposure to violence and aggression, innovative pro-grams could reshape the treatment and prevention of animal abuse.”
So what about when we pit two relatably helpless things against each other, like a kid vs. a puppy? Who’s wins our empathy then?
It’s still the puppy.
34% of parents like their pets more than their own children
According to a new survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of the pet food company I and Love and You, a third of parents prefer their pets to the company of their kids. Sixty-seven percent of these same respondents occasioned their pet as their best friend, and over three fourths at the very least agreed that their animals were apart of the family, if not all of these maintained that they were their favorite part of the family.
The reasoning seems to demonstrate Levin’s independent research on the subject. Those queried about their “pet fanaticism” justified it medicinally. Forty-percent, for instance, said that their animals curbed their relationship woes and all of the stress consequenced by work, and 34% agreed that their pets alleviated all of their pre-existing health problems to some degree or another.
Seventy-two percent spend what they have to in order to make sure their pet food is of the same quality as their own-in fact 41% allocate more money to their pet food than table food (though 41% end up sharing this with their companions as well.) Forty-four percent admitted to making a social media account for their pet, 42% throw birthday parties for their pet every year, and 54% feel that their pet understands them better than their significant other does.
“Pets are more than just a companion, they love us unconditionally and make us want to be better people,” explained Lindsey Rabaut, Vice President of Marketing for “I and Love and You” told the New York Post. ” A pet’s love brings out the best in all of us.”