Animal Studies Bibliography

Pifer, Linda, Kinya Shimizu, and Ralph Pifer. 1994. Public attitudes toward animal research: some international comparisons. Society and Animals 2(2): 95-113.

Previous studies have shown that attitudes toward animal research are shaped by several factors: the purpose of the research, the type of animal being used, and the availability of alternatives to using animals. Most studies cannot be compared because they use different questions and because many surveyed only college students or ARM activists. Further, surveys solely on the topic of animal rights sensitize people who may not have considered the issue and may result in misleading answers. This study measures strong support for animal rights research (since higher animals are used in the question and since pain/suffering will occur) in the context of broader surveys to avoid sensitization, organized cooperatively to ensure cross-national comparison. [No hypothesis given.]

Independent variables/operational definitions : nationality (France, E. Germany, W. Germany, Belgium, Italy, G. Britain, Ireland, Denmark, Spain, Canada, Netherlands, Japan, US, Greece, Portugal); gender; science knowledge (10 items formed knowledge scale; Rs then characterized as low (<5 correct), medium (5 to 7 correct), or high knowledge); environmental concern (whether R is interested, moderately interested, or not at all interested in issue of environmental pollution)

Dependent variables/operational definitions : attitudes toward animal research: Strongly agree to strongly disagree on: scientists should be allowed to do research that causes pain and injury to animals like dogs and chimpanzees if it produces new information about human health problems.

Findings : France showed the highest opposition to animal research, and all European countries except Portugal and Greece have more than 50% of the population opposed. All the non-European countries had less than 50% opposed. Strength of opposition also varied, with Americans generally expressing moderate views (only 23% chose SA or SD), Canadians expressing stronger feelings, and all the European countries except Greece and Portugal expressing stronger feelings still. France, then Belgium and Great Britain, showed the greatest amount of strong opposition. Japanese Rs disagreed the least strongly. In all countries a greater percentage of women than men opposed animal research, and the relationship was significant (.05) in all but 5 (Spain, Italy, Ireland, W. Germany, and Belgium). The largest gender difference (32% of men, 58% of women) was in the Netherlands, and the smallest was in West Germany (66% of men, 67% of women). The relationship between science knowledge and animal rights attitudes (from which Japan was excluded for lack of data) was significant for all but the US and France, but the direction of the relationship varied, with some countries (strongest is Denmark) showing a positive relationship (greater scientific knowledge associated with more support for animal research), and others (e.g. Belgium) showing a negative relationship (higher scientific knowledge associated with less support for animal research). Concern about the environment is significantly related to attitudes toward animal research in 11 countries (not Belgium, Canada, Denmark, or G. Britain), with people more concerned about the environment more likely to oppose animal research. Cluster analysis served to group the nations (excluding Japan) according to these variables, resulting in 4 clusters. Cluster One (Belgium, France, East Germany, West Germany, Ireland, Italy, and Spain) showed high opposition to animal research (51% to 68%), a large proportion strongly opposed (50% to 34%), among the smallest gender differences (1% to 11%), a negative relation between science knowledge and animal research support, and a positive relation between environmental concern and animal research opposition. Cluster Two (Canada, Denmark, and G. Britain) had moderate opposition to animal research, greater gender differences than Cluster One (8% to 25%), a positive relation between science knowledge and support for animal research, and a negative relation between environmental concern and opposition to animal research. Cluster Three (Greece and Portugal) has relatively low opposition to animal research (36 and 35%, respectively), and shows the same relations on science knowledge and environmental concern as seen in Cluster One. Cluster Four (Netherlands, US) shows moderate opposition to animal research (45 and 42%, respectively), a greater average gender difference than in any of the other clusters, a positive relation between science knowledge and support for animal research, and a positive relation between environmental concern and opposition to animal research. Thus, only gender shows a clear pattern cross-culturally, and further study should examine how this difference is produced. Some evidence suggests that level of urbanization and industrialization may be related to a country's views on animal research, with the more industrialized countries showing greater opposition, perhaps because rural people have more pragmatic views of animals, while urban people are more removed from the animal they use and therefore see only pets, which are objects of affection. Scientists have suggested that education is the way to combat the animal rights movement, but this and other research suggests that the relationship is not clear, and that not all people would receive this info. in the same way. Further research should develop a sense of the type of science knowledge that's related to animal research attitudes, since it was a generic variable in this study. Associations, or lack thereof, of animal research attitudes and environmental concern may be a product of political alliances between the movements in particular countries.

Sample/population sampled : Canada: 2000 adults from random, stratified sample representing pop. of each province; weighted to reflect population stats. Japan: 1457 adults (72% response rate) using two-stage cluster design; also weighted for pop. stats. European community: 13,024 Rs, about 1000 in each country. Only half of these Rs used because half were given an uncertain option not offered on the other countries' surveys. US: 2001 adults (72% cooperation rate); weighted to correct for age, gender, race, and level of education biases.


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