Are People More Disturbed by Dog or Human Suffering?

Influence of Victim’s Species and Age

In: Society & Animals
View More View Less
  • 1 Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Northeastern UniversityBoston, Massachusetts
  • | 2 Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Northeastern UniversityBoston,
  • | 3 Department of Sociology, University of ColoradoBoulder, Colorado
Download Citation Get Permissions

Access options

Get access to the full article by using one of the access options below.

Institutional Login

Log in with Open Athens, Shibboleth, or your institutional credentials

Login via Institution


Buy instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):


This research examines whether people are more emotionally disturbed by reports of non-human animal than human suffering or abuse. Two hundred and fifty-six undergraduates at a major northeastern university were asked to indicate their degree of empathy for a brutally beaten human adult or child versus an adult dog or puppy, as described in a fictitious news report. We hypothesized that the vulnerability of victims—determined by their age and not species—would determine participants’ levels of distress and concern for them. The main effect for age but not for species was significant. We also found more empathy for victims who are human children, puppies, and fully-grown dogs than for victims who are adult humans. Age makes a difference for empathy toward human victims, but not for dog victims. In addition, female participants were significantly more empathic toward all victims than were their male counterparts.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 7026 1278 160
Full Text Views 563 33 8
PDF Views & Downloads 126 50 20