Abused pets? No! Abused humans? Meh

The online version of our local fishwrap had a story entitled “Study: People have stronger feelings for abused pets than abused humans.” The study was apparently done by professors at Northeastern University in Boston via the 108th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, but the ASA’s website doesn’t have its conference papers online so I’ll have to presume our newspaper is reporting correctly. Some tidbits:

4482321245_b35bf88ee0_zIn some cases, if a person claims to have been battered, nobody panics. But flash images of battered animals on a commercial, and more often than not that will elicit an emotional response…

“Contrary to popular thinking, we are not necessarily more disturbed by animal rather than human suffering,” said Northeastern professor Jack Levin, who co-authored the study. “Our results indicate a much more complex situation with respect to the age and species of victims, with age being the more important component. The fact that adult human crime victims receive less empathy than do child, puppy, and full-grown dog victims suggests that adult dogs are regarded as dependent and vulnerable, not unlike their younger canine counterparts and kids…”

Levin said … many people have become desensitized to violence and … feel as though adult humans can fend for themselves, while puppies and infants are less capable to do so…

“We have a tendency to express compassion and empathy toward those whom we consider to be in a vulnerable class, such as animals, young children, the elderly and the disabled,” [Julie Lewis, who works with PAWS of Northeast Louisiana] said. “We may feel a sense of guilt that the plight of homeless/battered animals is directly related to the actions, or inactions, of humans. We know that there are some people who have a lack of remorse for dumping elderly animals or litters of kittens/puppies in the country or at dumpsters, left to fend for themselves. Most cannot and die a cruel death.

Planned Parenthood, President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, nor NARAL were contacted for comment regarding this story.

I suppose it suggests that the pro-life message may gain a bit of traction in some quarters by showing the parallels between the horrific deaths of millions of unborn children annually to the abuse of animals. It’s certainly not a difficult task to demonstrate that the unborn exhibit the same tendencies and characteristics that make animals worthy of our concern.

If anyone knows of an online version of the paper, I’d enjoy seeing it. Gannett didn’t seem interested in pursuing the abortion angle, though it appears the paper should have some results for children if not the unborn. Let me know in the comments.


Categories:Abortion Pro-Life

  • Angela

    Is it me, or does this study focus on the absence of empathy rather than answer what negates it? I wanted to see the authors measure participant (240 college students) exposure and desensitization to violence, whether real or from “entertainment.” Perhaps that’s their next step, along with recruiting samples from a larger catchment area and a wider age-range.
    Re: an online version of the paper, seems it has yet to be published. However, did see a brief online synopsis released on Levin and Arluke’s study, “Are People More Disturbed by Animal or Human Suffering? Assessing the Influence of Victim’s Species and Age on Empathy,” at: http://www.asanet.org/press/more_empathy_for_dogs_than_adults_humans.cfm.

  • Leslie T

    I have a feeling that this has more to do with the fact that humans are nasty to each other causing us to not care much if other humans are in pain or are suffering. We need to work to create more love in the world and learn to accept and tolerate, and love our fellow man. Perhaps then people will care.

  • Julie Cole

    Mr Shaughnessy if you see this please contact me.
    We have a mision for Respect Life
    It is so sad that there are people in our world that would defend with all they have to protect animals, while turning a blind eye to the thousands of babies slaughtered every day because their very existence is not convenient.

  • Rich

    look at your local obituaries and compare the amounts left to animal groups vs human groups.

  • Kathleen

    I have real doubts on the authenticity of that study’s results. First off, it’s different if you say you were a battered housewife than if you show pictures or footage of a woman being beaten. This study seems to have taken two different ways of integrating information (audio for human abuse, visual for animal abuse) and puts them on the same par. The ASA should do a study with consistent information integration (consistently visual, for example). Visual is a strong way of integrating information, particularly about any negative event or action.

    I hold humans in a higher regard than animals, but I flinch at both being abused/neglected, or being made to suffer in both senses.

    Take the results of that study with a grain of salt. Visual and audio are two very different ways of relaying information, and most of the population, whoever the subjects are, are more influenced by visual information than audio.

  • http://Catholicvote Nan Hill

    I have often wondered about how people can work so hard for animals and neglect the care for people.Where i live their are so many homless people with so many needs that are not cared for.Yet the pets are [pampered.Pray for us because we want to help with the homeless people.we love animals second to people.Ane we Love God the most.

    • Erick

      I agree. The sad dog commercials should be secondary to the sad truth happening to unborn babies. We need commercials exposing abortion!



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