There are so many things intuitive about our relationship with animals that we don’t need a study to prove things, but we have one none the less.
Canadian researchers found that the bigger the divide between humans and animals, the more likely humans were to be prejudiced against immigrants and racial minorities. Human children, and their parents, who were less likely to believe animals had feelings, were more prejudiced against other humans that were less like them.
According to the researchers “The results were fascinating, providing the first direct evidence that young children dehumanise other children along racial lines. Importantly, those who believed most strongly in the superiority of humans over animals showed the greatest dehumanisation in that they regarded the black children as possessing fewer uniquely human qualities, which in turn predicted increased prejudice toward black children.
What the study didn’t touch upon was whether the children’s reactions, both in terms of empathy or of disconnect, were learned from their parents, which would seem to be a logical conclusion. Children aren’t born with a natural distrust of either other people or animals. While it is true that distrust and prejudice can be self-developed based on one’s personal experiences, in the majority of cases children are adopting the prejudices and fears that their parents instill in them.