Attitudes toward Animals: The Effect of Priming Thoughts of Human-Animal Similarities and Mortality Salience on the Evaluation of Companion Animals

Ruth Beatson*, Stephen Loughnan, Michael Halloran

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Human attitudes toward nonhuman animals are complex and quite contradictory. They can range between extremely negative (animal cruelty) to positive (treating companion animals like human surrogates). Attitudes toward animals are especially negative when people think about human creatureliness and personal mortality. This paper investigates people's attitudes toward highly valued animals (companion animals). The research presented here tested whether companion-animal caregivers would respond to reminders of human creatureliness and mortality salience (MS) with more negative attitudes toward pets. Participants completed an online survey in which MS and human-creatureliness conditions were manipulated. Results showed that, under MS, even pet owners responded to reminders of human creatureliness with less positive attitudes toward the average pet. Thus, the effects observed in previous research extend to more popular animals, even among people with presumably positive attitudes toward animals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-89
Number of pages18
JournalSociety & Animals: Journal of Human-Animal Studies
Volume17
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • animal attitudes
  • pets
  • mortality salience (MS) creatureliness
  • terror management
  • TERROR MANAGEMENT THEORY
  • SELF-ESTEEM
  • PET ATTACHMENT
  • VALIDATION
  • BIAS
  • ANTHROPOMORPHISM
  • CREATURELINESS
  • IDENTIFICATION
  • PERSPECTIVE
  • OWNERSHIP

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