Extending empathy research towards animals
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The questions of whether and how people show empathy towards non-human animals and what factors influence the expression of this empathy are important for several reasons. It is relevant for initiatives that seek to increase prosocial behaviours for the purpose of protecting endangered species and conserving natural environments. Further, the study of empathic processes underlying the therapeutic relationships of human and non-human animal companions will help reveal the mechanisms responsible for positive changes in physiological and psychological states. The interaction between children and animals that influence empathy development are also an important area for further research because lack of empathy may underlie childhood behavioural problems. The present chapter examines research bearing upon the question of empathy towards non-human animals. Positive and negative human-animal interactions are discussed in addition to human-animal relations research that has specifically focused on empathy related responses. Contemporary conceptualisations of empathy are used as a framework to interpret this research. The review finishes with a discussion of applications of humananimal empathy research and a list of recommendations for future research.
Psychology of Empathy
Personality, Abilities and Assessment