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Exploring the Relationship between Socio-Demographic Background and Empathy toward Nonhuman Animals in Working Horse Caretakers

In: Society & Animals
Authors:
Daniela Luna Programa Doctorado en Ciencias Silvoagropecuarias y Veterinarias, Universidad de Chile

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Rodrigo A. Vásquez Instituto de Ecología y Biodiversidad, Departamento de Ciencias Ecológicas, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Chile

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Tamara Tadich Departamento de Fomento de la Producción Animal, Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias y Pecuarias, Universidad de Chile

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Abstract

Recognizing pain in nonhuman animals and empathy toward them is important for modulating human-animal relationships and animal welfare. Few studies have assessed pain recognition and empathic responses toward animals based on socio-demographic characteristics, and even fewer have examined them in socioeconomically marginalized individuals. To address this issue, four instruments were applied to 100 working horse caretakers. The socio-demographic and quality of life instruments were applied as interviews, and afterward two rating scales measuring empathy toward animals and the willingness to attribute pain to horses, in a diversity of painful conditions, were filled out. The results indicate that working horse caretakers have high levels of empathy and the willingness to attribute a high intensity of pain to equines in diverse situations that imply pain, but that neither socio-demographic status nor satisfaction with life quality were correlated with empathy toward animals or the willingness to attribute pain to horses.

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