On Altruism Toward Nonhuman Animals

  • Pavel N. Prudkov, Olga N. Rodina
  • Society and Animals, August 2016, Brill
  • DOI: 10.1163/15685306-12341419

Why people care for homeless animals

What is it about?

We studied the motivation of animal protectors engaged in caring for homeless animals. They were compared with individuals not involved in this activity. There were two hypotheses regarding the motivation. One hypothesis proposed animal protection is a substitute for people not satisfied with their family life and/or work. Another hypothesis suggested personality traits made some individuals attentive to the plight of humans and animals. We gathered demographic information and used an inventory on altruism toward humans and animals. There were no distinctions in demographics. Animal protectors scored high on the statements regarding altruism toward animals and low on the statements regarding altruism toward humans. Non-animal protectors demonstrated the opposite distribution of scores. This is inconsistent with the second hypothesis. Altruism toward animals and altruism toward humans may result from different mechanisms.

Why is it important?

Altruism is a remarkable trait, whose origin and functioning is still unclear. However, it is suggested that this is a linear characteristic, that is some people are more altruistic and caring regardless of the objects of their care and other people are less altruistic and caring. For the first time we demonstrated such a suggestion is wrong – some people prefer to care for animals although most of people prefer to care for humans. This means all models of altruism are need to be reconsidered.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr Pavel N. Prudkov