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Pet Ownership Boosts Men’s Empathy Towards Animals


summary: Men who own pets show greater compassion toward animals than farmers and pet owners. The study analyzed responses from 91 men, highlighting the significant impact of pet ownership on empathy levels.

The researchers emphasized the importance of human-animal interactions in developing empathy, especially in males. The results indicate that caring for pets, without financial motives, is most effective in promoting compassion for animals.

Key facts:

  1. Men who own pets show higher levels of empathy for animals than farmers and pet owners.
  2. The study included 91 participants from three groups: farmers, pet owners, and pet owners.
  3. Interactions with animals in adulthood greatly shape beliefs about animal consciousness and cognition.

source: James Cook University

Researchers at James Cook University, studying men’s empathy toward animals, found higher levels in men who owned pets compared to farmers and pet owners.

The study is published in Animal kindness.

Dr Jessica Oliva is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at James Cook University. She said that it is well established that women feel more compassion for animals than men.

It shows a man and a cat.
She said the men were asked what they thought influenced their beliefs about how animals think and feel. Credit: Neuroscience News

“The impaired ability to feel empathy in men can have devastating effects on both animals and humans alike. Animal abuse is perpetrated by nearly half of male perpetrators of intimate partner violence, according to studies of the US population.”

“So increasing our understanding of the role that human-animal interactions play in the development of AE has far-reaching implications, especially in males,” Dr. Oliva said.

The team analyzed 91 answers from three groups of adult men: farmers, pet owners, and pet owners.

Dr Oliva said levels of empathy for animals differed significantly between groups, with those in the pet ownership experience group showing higher levels of empathy for animals than the other two groups.

She said the men were asked what they thought influenced their beliefs about how animals think and feel.

“Although the majority of farmers were university educated, school knowledge of animal biology, sentience and/or perception was least endorsed by this group, suggesting that they relied more on their personal experiences,” said Dr Oliva. .

She said all three groups showed evidence that interactions with animals in adulthood were most influential in shaping their beliefs about how animals think and feel.

“However, our results support the idea that not all experiences are equally valuable, as adult responsibility and sacrifice involved in caring for animals, without the expectation of financial gain, appear to be most influential in developing empathy for animals,” he said. Dr. Oliva.

About Empathy Research News

author: Jessica Oliva
source: James Cook University
communication: Jessica Oliva – James Cook University
picture: Image credited to Neuroscience News

Original search: Open access.
Support for the ‘pets as ambassadors’ hypothesis in men: higher empathy for animals in Australian pet owners versus non-owners and farmers“By Jessica Oliva et al. Animal kindness


a summary

Supporting the ‘pets as ambassadors’ hypothesis in men: higher empathy for animals in Australian pet owners versus non-owners and farmers

Human empathy toward non-human animals (Animal Empathy; AE) showed a strong gender bias, with women showing higher levels than men.

This study aims to examine the effect of animal experiments on AE in a sample of males only.

It was hypothesized that there would be different levels of AE between men with pet care experience, men with animal agriculture experience, and men with limited animal experience.

Ninety-one Australian men (18 years and older) completed an online survey assessing their level of AE using the Animal Empathy Scale (AES). In addition, they were asked about their experience that they believe influenced their beliefs about how animals think and feel.

As expected, AE levels differed significantly between groups, with those in the pet ownership experience group showing higher AE levels than the other two groups. All three groups showed high endorsement of direct interactions with animals in adulthood as being most influential in shaping their beliefs about how animals think and feel.

However, our quantitative results support the idea that not all experiences are equally valuable, with the responsibility and sacrifice involved in pet care appearing to be most influential in the development of AE.

These findings have implications for the importance of human-animal interactions in understanding animal consciousness and the development of AE in males.

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