Can coherence-based interventions shift dogged moral beliefs about meat-eating?

Zachary Horne, Joshua Rottman, Caroline Lawrence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


What causes people to change their beliefs about right and wrong? Coherence-based interventions can change people's moral beliefs about abstract moral principles (Holyoak & Powell, 2016), but it is unclear whether these interventions would be similarly effective for everyday moral beliefs that can impact routine behavior. In the present research, we examined whether coherence-based "memes" highlighting the moral similarities of pigs and dogs can shift moral beliefs about consuming meat. Across three preregistered experiments (N = 2,281), we found that self-reported beliefs about the permissibility of eating some animals can be subtly shifted by brief coherence-based interventions which highlight morally relevant capacities (e.g., intelligence, emotional capacities) of an animal that is frequently eaten in Western society (pig) and an animal that is typically considered forbidden to eat by Westerners (dog). We discuss the implications of these findings for psychological and ethical theory.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104160
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Early online date9 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021


  • coherence-based reasoning
  • morality
  • belief change
  • animal ethics


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