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Empathy with Animals and with Humans: Are they Linked?

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A sample of 514 adults completed a postal questionnaire measuring both their empathy with humans (using the Mehrabian and Epstein (1972) Questionnaire for the Measurement of Emotional Empathy) and their empathy with non-human animals (using the Animal Empathy Scale, developed for this study). There was a significant, but modest correlation between the two scales (Kendall's tau=0.26, p<0.001), indicating that although the two types of empathy measure are in some way linked, they are unlikely to tap a single, unitary construct. This conclusion is reinforced by the finding that human- and animal-oriented empathy exhibit different levels of association with different potential sources of variation. Animal-oriented empathy was related to the current ownership of pets (U=19825.5, p<0.0001) and to the ownership of pets during childhood (U=10271.0, p<0.01), while human-oriented empathy was related to currently having a child or children at home (U=21020.5, p<0.05).

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/089279300786999699

Publication date: December 1, 2000

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