Would you save a dog or a foreigner? A recent paper from George Regents University posed that hypothetical to more than 500 people, and half of them said they’d pick the pup.
In the paper, published by Richard Topolski and colleagues, participants were asked which they’d save if an out-of-control bus was gunning for a dog and a human. At first, the answers were vague, dependent upon what kind of human and what kind of dog we were looking at.
For instance, if the human being were a sibling, grandparent or close friend, most respondents would go for the person. But, if the dog was their own pet, versus a distant cousin or stranger, most elected to save their dog.
Then, a shocking 40 percent of respondents (including 46 percent of women) said that they would save their dog over a foreign tourist.
To Robert Sapolsky of the Wall Street Journal, the implications are simply horrifying. He says the poll “points to something deeper: our unprecedented attitude toward animals, which got its start with the birth of humane societies in the 19th century.”
“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 points to a recent story that seems to illustrate the study (albeit, under extreme circumstances). A couple boating off the coast of South Africa recently capsized, and instead of freeing his wife, the man on the boat saved his Jack Russell terrier. Only after he had saved “Rosie” did he go back for his wife (who survived), though at least one media story claimed that she insisted he save their pup first.
So we turn it to you: Save the dog or a foreigner? Sound off in the comments below.