Researchers from George Regents University recently asked more than 500 people if they would rather save a foreigner or a dog. Richard Topolski and his colleagues gave participants a hypothetical scenario in which a bus was hurtling out of control toward a dog and a human and then inquired which they would save.
The answers varied depending on what kind of human and what kind of dog were presented in the scenario. Nearly all of the respondents said they would save a sibling, grandparent or close friend, but the answers got a bit murkier when it came to distant cousins and strangers.
Forty percent of respondents, including 46 percent of women, said they would save their dog instead of a foreign tourist, The Inquisitr reported.
Robert Sapolsky of the Wall Street Journal said that the implications of the poll should not be taken lightly.
"[The study] points to something deeper: our unprecedented attitude toward animals, which got its start with the birth of humane societies in the 19th century,” he wrote. “We can extend empathy to another organism and feel its pain like no other species. But let’s not be too proud of ourselves. As this study and too much of our history show, we’re pretty selective about how we extend our humaneness to other human beings.”
Sapolsky also brought up a recent incident where a man saved his dog before saving his wife after their boat capsized off the coast of South Africa. Some reports have indicated that the wife insisted that the husband get “Rosie” to safety before bringing her to shore.