Animals are more sensitive to the suffering of their fellows than humans?!

A French study, carried out between 2018 and 2021, shows the psychological stress of people in the face of animal suffering, including on the altar of science. Conversely, they seem to be less inclined to make their fellows suffer if we turn to the famous Milgram experiment and its derivatives. What animals seem more immune to. Decryption of

Are humans more likely to hurt one of their fellows than an animal? This is evidenced by a recent study by the University of Grenoble-Alpes, combined with the famous Milgram experiment conducted in the 1960s French experiment conducted between 2018 and 2021 and summarized in Laurent Beg-Sankland’s Facing the Animals ( Odile Jacob, 2022) is trying to understand the factors that can affect our empathy for animals.The results of researchers from the University of Grenoble-Alpes show the psychological stress of the participants in the face of suffering. animal from which they must take the life in the interest of the species “. Explanations. Candidates had to progressively “sacrifice” a prey animal: a seemingly large fish, but in fact a biomimetic robot. Reason given: to serve a scientific purpose, or rather to assess the toxicity of a new drug. If 20% of people categorically refused to start the experiment , then 53% of the participants went so far as to inject the last toxic and lethal dose.

Empathy: a shifted affective resonance »

I would never have thought that I would be attached to such a fish.

Study participant from the University of Grenoble-Alpes.

However, the readings collected at the end of the experiment show a certain amount of empathy from the participants towards the fish. ” I almost cried in the middle, couldn’t press the button, he didn’t look good – the student is lamenting. ” I would never have thought that I would be attached to such a fish. He was fat, he was handsome “, adds the fifty-year-old. Some admit that they stopped the experiment when their eyes met the eyes of the fish: ” AGAINSTIt has touched meone of the participants moves. I felt something in her eyes “. ” Crossing his gaze, a connection is createdthe student adds. Why force it on him? “Gold”, experiencing empathy is not the most common reaction to fishrecalls L. Beg Sankland. Its aquatic appearance does not evoke such defensive reactions as other animals closer to us, such as mammals. Because empathy is a very biased affective resonance. “. However, ” we know today that fish have complex cognitive abilities, says Violine Colson, a fish behavioral research engineer. They also feel emotions (fear, anxiety, pain); and pleasure seems to have also been shown, even though very little research exists on the subject.. »

The more cruel people…

However, the percentage of people “willing” to make an animal suffer remains lower than observed in human experiments. In 1963, the famous Milgram experiment showed that 60% of the human participants could shock another person under the pretext that the scientist, Professor Stanley Milgram, had asked them to do so. The behavior was confirmed many times after that. 50 years later, the game show “La Zone Xtreme” by Christoph Nick repeats this experience; and the conclusion is clear: 80% of the participants agreed to electroshock the other candidate under pressure not from the scientist… but from the facilitator! Each time, the victims were actually actors feigning pain, which, of course, the “tormentors” did not know about.

than animals!

Giraffes “grandmothers” play an important role in the survival of group members.

Zoe Muller – biologist

In situations like this, our 30 million friends are more altruistic. An American study conducted in 1964 shows that 80% of observed monkeys preferred to stop the chain that brought them food when they realized that this process was causing pain to one of their relatives. Same result in rats (Current Biology, 2020). ” Some participants help others because seeing someone in pain creates a state of disgust called “personal distress”, which they then try to “selfishly” reduce by helping others.explains the study. Other participants are more altruistic and helpful, even if they don’t have to witness the victim’s suffering. “.

If the behavior of humans can be surprising, then the behavior of animals is not so surprising, given the numerous cases of animal solidarity already observed. Giraffes, monkeys, whales… All these animals are known to form close social bonds with each other (Mammal Review, August 2021).

Animal Solidarity

Thus, thanks to the care they show and the knowledge they impart, giraffes “grandmothers” likely to play an important role in the survival of members of the group to which they belong says biologist Zoe Muller. In his book The Age of Empathy (Actes Sud, 2011), Frans de Wahl mentions, among other things, altruism in monkeys. When he can choose between a token that entitles him to food and a token that also rewards his companion, the capuchin monkey always chooses the one that everyone will like! Among cetaceans, solidarity can even be interspecific! In a 2009 wildlife documentary, researcher Robert Pitman observes humpback whales scaring off killer whales trying to catch seals. The case is far from isolated.

In short, fraternity and sorority are not concepts specific to the human species…quite the contrary. Animals teach us compassion: we must inspire ourselves!


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