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Young Americans have more sympathy for suffering babies and dogs than they do for human adults, a new study suggests.
Northeastern University researchers showed 256 college undergraduates fictitious news reports of brutally beaten human adults, children and canines, and asked the respondents to indicate their level of empathy.
"We found significantly more empathy for victims who are human children, puppies and fully-grown dogs than for victims who are adult humans," the study said. "In other words, age makes a difference for empathy toward human victims, but not for dog victims."
Researchers also found that the women in the study were significantly more empathic toward victims - whether they were human or animal - than were their male counterparts.
The study is set to be presented at the 108th annual conference of the American Sociological Association in New York City on Saturday.