Animals that are more sensitive to the suffering of their fellow creatures than humans ?!

A French study – conducted between 2018 and 2021 – shows human psychological tensions towards animal diseases, including on the altar of science. Conversely, they seem less reluctant to make their fellow human beings suffer if we refer to the famous Milgram experiment and its derivatives. What the animals seem more refractory to. The decryption of

Are humans more likely to hurt one of their fellow human beings than an animal? This is what a recent study conducted by the University of Grenoble-Alpes, combined with the famous Milgram experiment conducted in the 1960s, suggests. The French experiment conducted between 2018 and 2021 and summarized in Laurent Bègue-Sankland’s work “Facing animals” (Odile Jacob, 2022), attempts to understand the factors that are likely to affect our empathy for animals. The results of researchers from the University of Grenoble-Alpes testify to the participants’ psychological tension in the light of suffering ” of an animal from which they must remove life for the sake of the species Explanations. Candidates should progressively “sacrifice” an animal sacrifice: in appearance a large fish, but in reality a biomimetic robot. The rationale: to serve a scientific purpose, more specifically to assess the toxicity of a new drug. If 20% of people categorically refused to start the experiment, 53% of participants went so far as to inject the last toxic and lethal dose.

Empathy: a biased affective resonance »

I had not thought I would be attached to such a fish.

Participates in the study from the University of Grenoble-Alpes

Nevertheless, the testimonies collected at the end of the experiment show some empathy among the participants regarding the fish. ” I almost cried in the middle, could not press the button, he did not look good “sorry a student.” I had not thought I would be attached to such a fish. He was fat, he was handsome “, Adds a fifty-year-old. Some admit to having stopped the experiment when their gaze met the fish’s: ” UShave touched memoves one of the participants. I felt something in her eyes “.” Crossing his gaze, a bond is createdadds a student. Why force this on him? “Gold”, the experience of empathy is not the most common reaction to a fishremembers L. Bègue Sankland. Its aquatic appearance does not provoke such protective reactions as other animals closer to us, such as mammals. Because empathy is a very biased affective resonance “. However” we know that today fish have complex cognitive abilities, remembers Violaine Colson, a research engineer in fishing behavior. They also feel emotions (fear, anxiety, pain); and the pleasure also seems to have been shown, though there are very few studies on this subject. »

The more cruel people …

Yet the percentage of humans “ready” to make the animal suffer is still lower than that observed in experiments performed between humans. In 1963, the famous Milgram experiment showed that 60% of the participants – humans – could give another person an electric shock under the pretext that a scientist – Professor Stanley Milgram – had asked them to. A behavior confirmed many times thereafter. 50 years later, the game show “La Zone Xtreme” by Christophe Nick repeats the experience; and the conclusion is clear: 80% of the participants agreed to subject another candidate to an electric shock, not under pressure from a scientist … but from a facilitator! Each time, the victims were actually actors pretending to be in pain, which the “torturers” obviously did not realize.

than the animals!

The “grandmothers” giraffes plays an important role in the survival of group members.

Zoe Muller – Biologist

In similar situations, our 30 million friends behave more altruistically. A U.S. study conducted in 1964 shows that 80% of the monkeys observed preferred to stop operating the chain that provided food to them, as they understood that this process inflicted pain on one of their congeners. Same result in rats (Current Biology, 2020). ” Some participants help others because seeing someone in pain creates a state of aversion called ‘personal distress’, which they then try to ‘selfishly’ reduce by helpingexplains the study. Other participants are more altruistic and help even though they do not have to witness the victim’s suffering “.

If human behavior may surprise, the behavior of animals is not so surprising given the many instances of animal solidarity already observed. Giraffes, monkeys, whales … All of these animals are known to form close social bonds with each other (Mammal Review, August 2021).

Animal solidarity

Thanks to the care they show and the knowledge they pass on, the “grandmothers” giraffes probably plays an important role in the survival of the members of the group with which they are related says biologist Zoe Muller. Frans de Wall mentions in his book “The Age of Empathy” (Actes Sud, 2011) among other things altruism in monkeys. When he can choose between a token that entitles him to food and one that also rewards his companion, a Capuchin monkey always chooses the one that will delight everyone! Among whales, solidarity may even be between species! In a 2009 wildlife documentary, researcher Robert Pitman observes humpback whales scaring orcas trying to catch seals. A case far from isolated.

In short, brotherhood and sorority are not concepts that are specific to the human species… on the contrary. Animals teach us compassion: it is up to us to inspire ourselves!

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