Animal Studies Bibliography

Wells, Deborah L. and Peter G. Hepper. 1995. Attitudes to animal use in children. Anthrozoos 8(3): 159-170.

Purpose : To assess children's attitudes toward two types of animal use: use that usually results in the animal's death or injury (fox hunting, deer hunting, hare coursing, dog fighting, animals in non-medical research, animals in medical research) and “exploitative” use that does not (dog racing, dog shows, pigeon racing, horse racing, show jumping, animals in circuses, zoos). [No hypothesis given.]

Independent variables/operational definitions : Age; sex; type of pet(s) currently owned by subject her/himself; urban/rural residence

Dependent variables/operational definitions : Attitudes toward “Killing” and “Exploitative” animal use: measured by agree/disagree with each of 13 uses of animals, listed above.

Findings : 90.7% of children owned a pet, with dog (76.3%), cat (46.8%) and fish (41.5%) the most popular. Most (33.3%) kids owned two types of pet, while others owned from 1 to five or more types of pets. More rural kids owned a pet than did urban kids, and rural kids owned more pets. Rural kids owned more dogs, cats, terrapins, and horses, while urban kids owned more fish. Fewer 14-year-olds owned pets than did kids of the other ages, but there was no association between age and number of pets. There were no significant associations between sex and pet ownership, number of pets owned, or type of pet. Pet ownership was not examined as a cause of attitudes since almost all the kids owned pets. Several significant relationships were found. Males agreed with more animal use overall than did females, as did rural kids over urban kids. Kids disapproved more of killing uses than of exploitative uses. Sex and residence area accounted for little of the variation, while type of animal use accounted for a lot. Dog fighting and deer hunting were the most disapproved uses, while dog shows and show jumping were the least disapproved. The high disapproval of dog fighting may be because it is illegal in the UK and has received much bad press. Girls showed significantly more disagreement than boys on fox hunting, deer hunting, hare coursing, dog fighting, dog racing, pigeon racing, and circuses. Girls disagreed more than boys on all other areas (though not significantly) except dog shows and show jumping. Urban kids showed significantly more disagreement than rural kids on fox hunting, while rural kids showed significantly more disapproval of using animals in non-medical research. 14-year-olds were the most approving of using animals in non-medical research. Dog and cat ownership had no significant relationship to any attitude. Horse owners approved more of fox hunting than did non-owners. Opposition to practices like hunting may be higher in this study than in US studies because animal rights beliefs are stronger in the UK. They may also reflect the growth of the movement and increasingly negative attitudes toward such activities. A considerable number of kids disapproved of circuses, but many fewer disapproved of zoos, probably reflecting the animals' different “lifestyles” (circus animals are always traveling, etc.). The small amount of variation explained by sex and residence (< 4% combined) suggests that socio-cultural factors and education probably shape attitudes significantly.

Sample/population sampled : 650 11-15-year olds from 2 co-ed schools (one rural, one urban) in Northern Ireland



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