Recognizing that “Knowledge of the factors influencing attitudes toward animals has implications for prevention and intervention in cases of cruelty,” researchers from Hofstra University and New York University examined how empathy and personality traits of 241 undergraduate students aged 18-46 affected their attitudes toward animals..
The present study offers further evidence that empathy is a critical variable in both the understanding and treatment of animal abuse. Previous studies have shown high empathy among animal activists and low empathy in individuals who abuse animals. Here, using a general population (non-clinical and non-advocate) sample, the authors find that empathy (as distinguished from four other major personality variables) correlates with positive attitudes toward animals.
by Ken Shapiro and Jill Howard Church