Psychology of Empathy: People Love Pets More Than Humans


Animals touch the most intimate parts of our heart: our need to protect and nurture, our need for companionship and love

Some people post angry comments on animal abuse news while scrolling a story of other humans getting hurt. Why so?

Many people love their pets deeply. Even celebrate things like birthday celebrations, perform proper death ceremonies like funerals and even give equal space on their couch.

Some people also feel an equal amount of pain on losing a pet as felt after losing any other family member.

But does that mean humans love animals more than humans? Or is it more complicated than that?

The weaker among Us

Humans have complex emotions i.e. Empathy. Even though it seems to be disappearing from society, some people still show empathy, especially to helpless and vulnerable beings like animals and/or babies.

Experiment Conducted to Test the Human’s Love for their Pets

A recent study was conducted by Arnold Arluke and Criminologist Jack Levin, which was also published in the journal, Society and Animals. The research was conducted to find the reason behind humans loving their pets more than other people.

In this experiment, 240 students were shown news articles about an adult, a puppy, and a baby. The news was fake stories of adults beaten with a bat or puppy being abused or a child involved in a violent scenario. The news article was specifically written for the experiment itself. 

The level of empathy shown for an adult was slightly less than that shown for a puppy or a baby. This shows that the empathy level is not related to species but related to doing with perceived vulnerability.

Conclusion of the Experiment

The affection shown to pets can be compared to the affection humans have for their children. The reason behind this care and desire to help is that animals, much like babies are unable to help themselves. While adult humans can defend themselves or take their stand.

The children and animals have the innocence that the humans feel the need to protect. So loving pets has nothing to do with their species, and mainly to do with our human desire to protect and nurture those who are innocent and vulnerable.

But the other main reason for loving pets more can be UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.

Love provided by humans often involves conditions and expectations but with pets the case is different. No matter what kind of a person you are or whether you yell at your pet, they will always be there, looking at you with adoring eyes. Wagging their tail or purring happily!


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