Dogs inherited this ability and started using it on us, manipulating us into “domesticating” them. Over the years they developed a deeper and stronger ability to tune into our emotional states. It’s what enables them to work for us and, quite often, to comfort us when we’re not feeling well.
It’s not empathy. And it’s not emotional contagion. I think it's more like a sixth sense, an ability to tune in to our emotional vibrations.
Researchers at the U.K.'s University of Bristol have found that chickens seem to only show empathetic feelings towards their own chicks, but not other adult chickens in their peer group. The research followed an earlier study in which researchers discovered the chickens experience physiological stress when they observe their chicks experience uncomfortable scenarios.
Do animals possess empathy? A loaded question. A couple of recent studies have claimed they do (think of rescue rats and yawning dogs). But, as I asked in the post about the yawning dog study, is that really what is shown? A recent article in Biology Letters addresses this query.
Most animals don't have the ability to talk, but that does not make them any less deserving of our respect and care. Some children see animals as smaller, weaker creatures, and these children may tease or take advantage of them. Children who have the ability to empathize with others, including animals, are more likely to develop into kind and thoughtful adults.
Teachingyour children that animals have feelings, too, helps them to empathize with other creatures, no matter how big or small those creatures are.
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