Chimpanzees are indifferent to the welfare of unrelated group members

Humans are an unusually prosocial species—we vote, give blood, recycle, give tithes and punish violators of social norms. Experimental evidence indicates that people willingly incur costs to help strangers in anonymous one-shot interactions, and that altruistic behaviour is motivated, at least in part, by empathy and concern for the welfare of others (hereafter referred to […]

An In-class, Humane Education Program Can Improve Young Students’ Attitudes Toward Animals

All 8 first-grade classes of an elementary school participated in a study of the efficacy of an inclass humane education program that incorporated regular visits from therapy animals. The study also investigated the relative efficacy of a popular, printed humane education publication, although it was not possible to use this printed material in its optimal […]

Could empathy for animals have been an adaptation in the evolution of Homo sapiens?

In humans, empathy has emotional and cognitive components, both of which are linked to caring and nurturant behaviour. Variations in each of these facets of empathy were likely to have been accessible to natural selection during the evolution of Homo, although the likely details of their respective adaptive values has so far only been considered […]

Ethology applied to animal ethics

According to modern animal welfare legislation, animals should be protected from suffering and lasting harm not for the benefit of us humans as in earlier anthropocentric conceptions, but in their own interest. The driving force behind animal protection is our empathy with animals which triggers feelings of compassion. Empathy with animals most likely is a […]

Are Animals Capable of Deception or Empathy? Implications for Animal Consciousness and Animal Welfare

Awareness of the self and awareness of others are difficult faculties to define. Part of the problem lies in the wide range of abilities that involve various aspects of awareness. Some of the most commonly studied abilities focus on the self-awareness of the individual. These abilities range from the capacity to distinguish self from non-self […]

The effect of empathy in proenvironmental attitudes and behaviors

Previous studies have pointed out the importance of empathy in improving attitudes toward stigmatized groups and toward the environment. In the present article, it is argued that environmental behaviors and attitudes can be improved using empathic perspective-taking for inducing empathy. Based on Batson’s Model of Altruism, it was predicted that higher levels of empathy would […]

Distress of Mice Induces Approach Behavior But has an Aversive Property for Conspecifics

In the first experiment, approach/avoidance behavior of mice to a restrained cage mate was examined. The mice explored the restrained mates but they did not stay longer at the restrained mates in comparison to free moving mates. Conditioned Place Preference (CPP) training in the presence of a restrained mate did not result in preference or […]

Human-animal relationships in the Norwegian dairy goat industry: attitudes and empathy towards goats (Part I)

The quality of human-animal relationships in the livestock industries has been increasingly recognised as an important determinant of animal welfare. Attitudes and empathy are multi-dimensional traits that may be associated with the stockpersons’ behaviour. The aim of this study was to determine the dimensionality of the goat-oriented attitudes and empathy of stockpeople in the Norwegian […]

Indicators of positive and negative emotions and emotional contagion in pigs

Abstract For the welfare of group-housed animals, such as pigs, the emotional state of an individual pig is relevant, but also the extent to which pen mates are affected by the distress or pleasure of other individuals, i.e. emotional contagion, a simple form of empathy. Therefore, indicators of positive and negative emotions were investigated in […]

Protective mother hens: cognitive influences on the avian maternal response

We previously demonstrated that domestic hens, Gallus gallus domesticus, show behavioural and physiological responses when witnessing mild chick distress, and possess the underlying foundations of emotional empathy. However, no studies have determined how cognitive influences affect empathic processes in birds. A fundamental question is whether a mother hen’s response to chick distress is mediated by […]