Animal Studies Bibliography

Braithwaite, John and Valerie Braithwaite. 1982. Attitudes toward animal suffering: An exploratory study. International Journal for the Study of Animal Problems 3(1): 42-49.

Purpose : To assess public attitudes about animal suffering [no hypothesis given]

Operational definitions : 74 Likert-style items measuring: “1) killing versus causing suffering without killing; 2) killing painfully versus painlessly; 3) harming animals for entertainment, for food, ornamentation, or to increase knowledge; and 4) harming several types of animals: pests, as well as pets, other domestic animals or wild animals” (42).

Findings : Rs showed very strong opposition to some exploitative practices--e.g. 89 disapproved over raising chickens in battery cages, and 97% disapproved of keeping a cockatoo in a similarly tight cage. The difference suggests that activists should work not at convincing people these things are wrong, which they appear to already agree with, but rather to point out inconsistencies, such as valuing a chicken and a cockatoo differently. Similarly, despite disapproving of such things as raising chickens in cages, inhumane killing of meat animals, and force-feeding of geese, people generally still supported consuming the products produced through these practices. This suggests that activists must also focus on making people realize the problems with inconsistencies between their attitudes and their behavior. Regarding the use of animal in research, Rs approved of these scenarios in decreasing order: killing animals painlessly in medical research, killing animal painlessly for nonmedical research, killing animals painfully in medical research, killing animals painfully in nonmedical research. In other words, the animals' suffering and the purpose of the research (its usefulness to humans) determined its acceptableness. Regarding animals used in research, with options of toads, mice, monkeys, and dogs, toads and mice were the most approved, and monkeys were always more approved of than dogs, suggesting that pets-status matters more to Rs than evolutionary similarity in determining animal treatment. Rs disapproved more of practices which involved animal killing as well as some ecological threat. Rs saw acts of commission as more objectionable than acts of omission (more thought it wrong to drown a moth in a tub of water than to let a fallen moth drown in one). Principal-component analysis identified 4 clusters of attitudes. First (and largest) were attitudes regarding “wanton painful practices that did not serve a significant social purpose” (48) like shooting elephants for ivory, cockfighting, and using live bait for greyhound training. The second cluster included attitudes that are usually considered acceptable because they serve some social purpose, such as hunting animals that threaten a farm, big game fishing, or killing insects in the home. The third cluster was attitudes about farm practices, such as crowing animals together, refusing then veterinary care, or keeping food and water from them. The fourth cluster included attitudes about actually killing animals (versus harming but not killing them). These findings suggest that future research should focus on differences between attitudes and behavior and that activists should focus not on creating attitudes but on getting behavior in line with existing ones.

Sample/population sampled : 302 undergraduates in psychology, sociology, and humanities at Griffith and Queensland Universities, Australia.


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