People Who Love Animals More Than People: Psychology of Empathy

Why Do Some People Show too Much Empathy Towards Animals - calmerry
September 17, 2020

Americans are fond of their pets. It’s why they organize birthday celebrations for animals and create a comfortable sleeping space for them. People who have lost pets can verify that they grieved for some time. Recovering from the death of a pet can be equated to losing a person in a family.

When Did the Love for Animals Begin?

The view of your dog wagging its tail with those lovely movements may make your heart jump with joy. Your love for pets is more in-depth than you think. Research shows that it may be part of your genetic makeup. Therefore, you cannot take it lightly.

The idea of owning pets has been there for a long time. People have owned pets for 50,000+ years. When hunters and gatherers found these animals in the forests, they often took them home for domestication. With time, people have resorted to taking care of these animals the same way they treat human beings.

According to Dr. Bradshaw, a Veterinary Specialist and a researcher at Bristol University, the love for pets is genetically embedded in some people. The natural fondness led to the domestication of pets like dogs.

Historically, people kept pets because of the values that they provided to the family. For example, dogs were useful during hunting expeditions. Moreover, they acted as protection and safeguarded humans from dangers that they faced those days. Animals like dogs have slowly transformed from work companions into family members.

The bond between human beings and animals has grown strong over the years. People have also become more attentive and compassionate because of the way they treat animals.

Why Do Some People Show Too Much Empathy Towards Animals?

Humans used to be empathetic in the past. That has since become different from the horrid features that are shown in social and mainstream media. Many people no longer care about what happens to other human beings, however bad it may seem to be. Why are people so empathetic when it comes to the problems that animals face?

Psychologists have established that the affection that you feel towards your child is similar to the one you show towards animals. We want to take care of them because we view them as creatures that cannot help themselves when they are in trouble.

You do not care about things regarding the species that they belong to. Instead, all people care about is the level of the helplessness of the creature in need. While adults are in a position to fight for their rights, animals and kids cannot do the same.

Kids and animals always look innocent and helpless. Therefore, human beings feel that they should be protected. You do not use the innate feeling to differentiate one species from another. Instead, you feel like you should nurture them both because of their helplessness.

Therefore, it is normal for you to react with rage every time you hear that someone has mistreated an animal. Researchers have also shown that females are usually more empathetic when compared to their male counterparts.

Have you lost a pet, and you are struggling with grief? We have therapy experts who can help you through that and all the other troublesome issues that you may be going through.

Are There Specific Benefits of Owning a Pet?

People have always been attached to animals for a long time. It is only that the affection has grown over time, and they now treat the animals as part of the family. What are the specific benefits that people draw from pet ownership? Here are a few advantages that you should know.

Improvement in a Person’s Self-Esteem/Worth

Humans are sensitive. One negative comment can easily crash their self-perception and make them feel that they are useless. As a person, you may feel that your self-worth is the most important part of your personality.

When people interact with pets, they feel positive about themselves, which leads to improved self-perception. For instance, they can help you in coping with stressful life situations as they distract you from your stressors. So, the close relationship that you have with your pet can help in moderating stressful situations.

Contributes Towards Your Emotional Stability

In addition to being a conversational partner, pets can help you in maintaining your emotional stability. They provide emotional comfort by reducing the effects of the things that stress you as a person. Pet owners are unlikely to suffer from depression. Moreover, they enjoy life.

Pets can love you for who you are. The unlimited love that they offer is what people want. The loyalty and the positive behaviors from pets make people feel comfortable around them.

Pets play different roles all at once. In them, you have a reliable friend, the company, and a place to get emotional support. You always feel needed when you are with your pet. The feeling of acceptance makes you feel better.

Pets Are Empathetic Creatures to Persons

Pets are emotionally empathetic by the virtue that they can relate to human beings’ emotions. Their unique concern and understanding make people love them. When you have a pet, you also feel the need to take care of it.

Improvement in the State of Your Health

Pets do not just fulfill your emotional needs. You should take good care of them by ensuring that you wash them, properly feed them, exercise, and provide affection. Research shows that pet owners rarely visit hospitals.

People take pets such as pups for walks regularly. The exercises make these people fit, thus keeping them safe from health issues like cardiovascular diseases and obesity. Moreover, as it was said, animals assist people in coping with their stressors.

Initiates Useful Social Interactions Among People

Most people do not know how to begin conversations with others. Fortunately, pets have ice-breaking characteristics. When people talk about or to the pet, they eventually communicate with the owner. The interactions promote better communication among people who were previously strangers to each other.

Moreover, the pet also initiates a conversation on its own. Your pet wants to be held and stroked. As you interact with them, you get rid of your boredom. The pets also understand when to stay calm.

Why Do Some People Choose an Animal and Not a Human?

When one loves and feels compassion towards pets more than towards people, it may seem unusual. In any case, people see dogs and other pets as creatures that cannot talk and think the way humans do. Why do some people prefer animals to people?

They Are Dependable

When one has a dog as a pet, they are always sure of its dependability. People want a company that they can always count on any day.

However, you cannot always rely on a human being because: 

  • You may be friends or lovers today and break up the next day;
  • Sudden arguments may occur;
  • They may give false excuses;
  • they may not want to associate themselves with your troubles.

Pets Do Not Judge

Your friends can sit and heap praises on you one minute. The next moment, they are saying negative things about you. However, pets cannot judge you. It’s one aspect that makes individuals choose them over people.

Animals Do Not Have Any Hidden Motives

Some people are only nice when they need something from you. As soon as they meet their objectives, you may not see them around you again. However, pets often offer unlimited love. They are always there, regardless of your situation.

They Increase Your Excitement

There are times when you may not feel like doing anything. You just need something to stimulate you back to action. A dog can force you to take them for walks. Besides, they are a great source of security as you walk around the neighborhood.

What Pets Do Most People Prefer?

There is a wide variety of amazing animals to select from when searching for a pet. Still, if you are battling anxiety issues, particular choices may be preferable.

Without a doubt, pups and cats are the most liked pets since they are easy to maintain. However, if you lack adequate space for them, it would be best to pick smaller animals like rodents.

Can It Get to a Point Where You Love Pets Too Much?

Just like people have an unhealthy emotional attachment to humans, the same can happen towards animals. For instance, you can use your pet as an excuse not to interact with your friends. It may cause some issues in your relationships. In such a case, you may require psychological help.

The Takeaway

Animals make us experience the best feelings we have. That further augments our longing for love and compassion. Normally, these needs exist within our hearts, but animals bring such desires out more. However, some of us get too attached to animals, which makes us have to disregard the feelings of other people. Many reasons drive some people to show more affection to pets as compared to persons:

  • Animals do not judge you;
  • You can always rely on them;
  • Pets do not have hidden motives.

If you experience some issues, want to be heard out, and need help, we have the experts you need. We are committed to ensure that you get the necessary solutions to the difficulties that you may be going through. Contact us to discuss your issues with the right professionals.

Kate Skurat

Kate Skurat

Licensed Mental Health Counselor

Washington, United States

Kate has a B.S. in Psychology and M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University and has worked in healthcare since 2017. She primarily treated depression, anxiety, eating disorders, trauma, and grief, as well as identity, relationship and adjustment issues. Her clinical experience has focused on individual and group counseling, emergency counseling and outreach. Read more.

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