Some dog owners apparently love their dogs so much that they treat them like they treat a kid. Sometimes, they even claim they love them more than some family members and friends.
And, a new research is backing these claims up- there’s a scientific reason why they prefer their four-legged furry buddies more than some of the people in their lives.
The study was published in the Society and Animals journal and it points out that people have more empathy towards dogs than humans.
Continue reading the article to learn how the researchers came to this conclusion.
Why Do We Have more Empathy for Our Pets than for Humans?
For the purpose of the study, the researchers needed to make an experiment.
They included 240 students for it. They were presented with fake clippings from newspapers of a police report that was either about an attack of a person or attack of a dog.
The fake news said that the victim was attacked with a baseball bat by an unknown person and was left unconscious with a broken leg and several lacerations.
Each of the participants was given the same report with the victim being a 1-year-old human, a 30-year-old human, a puppy or a 6-year-old dog.
After they read the reports, they were asked to explain how they felt.
The subjects viewed the dogs as their fur babies, rather than dogs or family members alongside children, concluded the researchers.
Their hypothesis was that the victims’ vulnerability by age rather than by species would be a primary factor in the participants’ levels of concern and distress.
The empathy levels in the humans for the puppy, older dog, and baby human were similar whereas that of the adult came last.
The adult dog only had lower empathy scores in comparison to the infant human.
Why Are We so Attached to Our Furry Four-Legged Friends?
Another study from the Scientific Reports journal discovered that we’re very connected to our dogs because they make more facial movements when we’re paying them attention.
This was discovered by the usage of a camera that recorded facial movements of 24 dogs when there was a human facing it or facing it away, with or without a treat.
In the past, it was thought that the expressions of animals are unconscious; however, this study found out that dogs elevate their eyebrows and make their eyes bigger when looking for our attention.
Treat presence didn’t influence their expression so it wasn’t about them ‘turning on’ their charm to get food.
The researchers claim that this could be a way of communication between a pet and an owner.
This study reveals important information about how domestication shaped dogs to become more communicative with humans.