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Empathy and donation behavior toward happy and sad chimpanzees

By Nils-Torge Telle, Hans-Radiger Pfister

Category Journal Articles

Past research indicates a moderate but robust relationship between human empathy and empathy toward animals. Further, it has been shown that human empathy is associated with more positive attitudes toward animals. What has not been researched, however, is human- and animal-directed empathy in combination with actual animal-directed helping behavior. Here, we report two studies with which we begin to fill this gap by assessing human trait and affective state empathy toward sad and happy chimpanzees and subsequent donations to a chimpanzee conservation project. Both studies involved between subject designs and college students samples, with study 1 ( n=405) having been an online study and study 2 ( n=121) having been conducted in a controlled laboratory environment. In study 1, we used a probabilistic donation measure, whereas in study 2, participants could actually donate some of their participation fee. Although our results show that neither human trait nor animal-directed state empathy predicted donation behavior, we found that moral attitudes as well as past donations were predictive of probabilistic donation behavior. Interestingly, happy and sad chimpanzees elicited equally high monetary donations. We discuss our results in light of the potentially different underlying mechanisms that trigger animal-directed helping behavior.

Date 2014
Publication Title Human-Animal Interaction Bulletin
Volume 2
Issue 2
Pages 1-20
URL https://www.apa-hai.org/haib/download-info/empathy-donation-behavior-toward-happy-sad-chimpanzees/
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animals
  3. Animal welfare
  4. Chimpanzees
  5. donations
  6. Emotions
  7. Empathy
  8. Great ape
  9. Helping behavior
  10. Mammals
  11. open access
  12. peer-reviewed
  13. Primates
  14. traits
  15. vertebrates
  1. open access
  2. peer-reviewed