Pet owners might possibly be some of the best people you could ever meet. You can tell a lot about a person based on how they treat animals. However, some pet owners tend to love animals more than they love other people. Although it comes as no surprise, there’s a study that confirms this reality. There’s something indescribable about the bond between a human and their beloved furry friends.
Why We Love Animals More Than People
Everyone who’s owned a pet can relate to the small things we do to make them comfortable. This could mean giving our pet a little more space on the bed or couch. Doing things like this are very subtle and random acts of kindness. You might be thinking that this is really no big deal. However, it has everything to do with our love for animals more than people.
A recent study curated by criminologist, Jack Levin, proves the power of empathy people have for animals. The study consisted of exposing individuals to a heart-wrenching fake news story. However, the story changes in details for every person that was surveyed. The initial story is about an infant, puppy, adult dog, and an adult human being assaulted. Each is brutally assaulted with a baseball bat, with broken limbs, and being unconscious. (1)
Levin was able to portray the amount of empathy people felt more for the infant, puppy, and adult dog. There was still a concern for the hypothetical beaten human. However, the overall results showed that people cared way more about the animals than the humans. Levin surmises that the reason we feel less for adult humans is unrelated to species. In fact, it has everything to do with being helpless and vulnerable. (1)
Our Pets Are Like Our Children
Even though there are some people that have a problem with this statement, it’s very true. Comparing our beloved pets to our beloved children might be a stretch. However, Levin’s study shows the equivalence in people’s empathy compared to animals and children. The reason why is because we have an overwhelming reaction to something so helpless. Just as we know a baby could never fend for itself the same goes for our pets. It kills you inside thinking of what might happen to your animal friends when you’re not there. (2)
When we visually see a fellow adult human experience hardship, we don’t see helplessness. We believe that this person has the ability to fight for themselves. They have more of a potential power compared to an infant or a puppy. A baby isn’t going to be able to defend itself let alone speak its mind. Without even realizing it, people are willing to let another adult human fight for themselves. Even if they are beaten brutally. (2)
Children and animals have an innocence that people are compelled to protect at any cost. Anything that we deem evil or cruel almost always revolves around stolen innocence. Our empathy to preserve this peaceful existence overwhelms all of our other senses.
Our Need For Unconditional Love
Pairing innocence with a need for unconditional love, people more often than not will choose their pets. Of course, unconditional love from our family and friends is widely accepted. However, there’s a certain kind of powerful love you experience with your beloved animals. They offer everything to us, no judgment, no second-guessing, just pure love. Our animals just want to see us happy which in turn makes them just as happy.
Nothing could ever compare to your favorite cat or dog. They are there for you through thick and thin. Whether that means moving across the country or your partner just left you. Your pets will be there to console and comfort you. Animals can seemingly tell when you’re stressed or burnt out. You might have noticed this the last time you were crying or yelling at something. Even though they cannot use words to speak their mind, they use their hearts. All of this plays a huge part in the functionality of our brains.
Why Our Brains Love Animals More Than People
You’d be surprised that having a pet comes with a lot of healthy side-effects. The more time that you are able to spend with your animals, the healthier your brain is. Just by being with your pet, your body is able to lower blood pressure and reduces your stress hormones. Additionally, your brain releases a feel-good chemical known as oxytocin. This chemical is actually known as the “hug drug“. (3)
Having a pet also plays a part in reduced loneliness as well. Pet owners live healthier and happier lives thanks to the company of their pets. You might even find yourself confessing everything to your beloved pet. Even if they can’t understand a single word you’re saying, they still seem to listen. We underestimate just how smart our pets really are as well as their empathy. Animals exude the same kind of concern whenever they see you stressed, doing everything to make you happy. (3)
We realize that not everyone is able to own a pet. However, it may be wise to find a way to invest in one. You’ll notice a dramatic change in your life almost instantly.
- “Are People More Disturbed by Dog or Human Suffering? Influence of Victim’s Species and Age.” Research Gate. Jack Levin and Arnold Arluke. April 2017
- “People Who Love Animals More Than People: Psychology Of Empathy.” Better Help. Amy Gardner. October 26, 2020.
- “About Pets & People.” CDC. April 15, 2019.