Abused puppies get more sympathy than people, but not by much

Abused puppies rank highest on the empathy scale, according to a new study.

What draws more sympathy, a battered dog or battered human?

According to new research, abused dogs inspire more empathy within us than a human being in similar circumstances.

Researchers at Northeastern University looked at surveys of 240 people between the ages of 18 and 25.

The participants received one of four fictional news articles about an abused child, abused adult, abused puppy and an abused older dog. The news stories were mostly identical except for the character above.

After reading the story, the participants were asked to rate their level of sympathy towards the victim of the abuse.

Though dogs did fare better than humans, it seems that age made more of a difference.

"Contrary to popular thinking, we are not necessarily more disturbed by animal rather than human suffering," said Levin.

"We were surprised by the interaction of age and species. Age seems to trump species, when it comes to eliciting empathy. In addition, it appears that adult humans are viewed as capable of protecting themselves while full grown dogs are just seen as larger puppies."

Woman were found to be more empathetic than men towards both humans and animals.