A study involving 240 people was carried out to measure the level of empathy that humans have for other humans, compared to dogs. Before the study, it was assumed that the levels of empathy were mostly determined by age and not species.
To test this, fake newspaper clippings containing a false police report were given to each of the participants. In the newspaper clippings, the victim in the false reports were attacked by an unknown assailant using a baseball bat and resulted in injuries such as a broken leg. The victims in each report were either a puppy, a one year old baby, a six year old dog or a thirty year old adult.
After reading through fake newspaper reports, the participants were then asked a series of questions which allowed the researchers to measure the different levels of empathy each of the participants felt for each of the victims. The results of the study showed that the thirty year old man received the least amount of empathy, while the puppy, the baby and the adult dog received the most amount of sympathy and along the same levels. It is also mentioned in the report of the study that people care for and consider their dogs as a family member, and not just an animal.
Another study also showed that dogs made conscious facial expressions towards humans when they wanted or were given attention. This shows that a dog’s facial expressions are not because they just want food or that it is an unconscious act, as it was previously thought. These studies show just how much dogs have been changed by domestication and their methods of communication with humans.