Animal Studies Bibliography

Self, D. J., Safford, S. K., and Shelton, G. C. 1988. Comparison of the general moral reasoning of small animal veterinarians vs large animal veterinarians. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 193(12): 1509-1512.

Hypotheses : (1) Small animal veterinarians use higher levels of moral reasoning than do large animal veterinarians. (2) Female veterinarians use higher levels of moral reasoning than do male veterinarians.

Independent variables/operational definitions : type of practice (small or large animal) and sex

Dependent variables/operational definitions : Defining Issues Test (DIT) for assessing moral reasoning, an instrument used extensively to measure Kohlberg's stages of moral development, higher scores represent more advanced moral development

Findings : The first hypothesis was not supported. Small animal vets had slightly lower average scores than large animal vets, and the difference was not statistically significant. The groups may have similar moral development because such development has been shown to correlate with level of education, which is constant among these Rs. The hypothesis was based on the popular notion that small animal vets are concerned about animal suffering, client grief, and interpersonal relationships, while large animal vets are concerned with human needs and economics, and these results suggests that this stereotype may be incorrect. Or, the similarity may be because large animal vets take a public health perspective, so even without attention to animals' welfare as small animal vets have, they may register high on moral reasoning. The second hypothesis was weakly supported (p=.045). This support was surprising since previous studies have shown no gender difference, but the small number of female vets in the sample might limit generalizability. This study establishes a baseline from which further studies of vets' moral reasoning can begin.

Sample/population sampled : 350 questionnaires sent randomly to members of the Texas Veterinary Medical Association. 37.4% response rate, of which 18.3% was lost due to incomplete responses, leaving 107 Rs. 86.9% of Rs were male, a proportion representative of the TVMA membership. 64.5% were small animal vets, 30.8% large, and 5% unidentified. Age ranged 26 to 66 years with a mean age of 40.5. 45.3% of Rs were from towns with populations less than 25,000, and 29.9% were from cities with more than 100,000. All geographic areas of Texas were represented except the Panhandle area of North Texas.



Visit the Michigan State University Homepage Return to the Animal Studies Homepage