Animal Studies Bibliography

Eagles, Paul F. J. and Susan Muffitt. 1990. An analysis of children's attitudes toward animals. Journal of Environmental Education 21(3): 41-44.

Research questions : 1) What are children's (ages 12-14) attitudes toward wildlife? 2) What are the attitudinal differences between girls and boys? 3) What attitudes are reported by children who participate in wildlife-related activities?

Operationalizations : Wildlife attitudes measured using Kellert's typology (naturalistic, ecologistic, etc.). Wildlife-related activities were camping (at least once a year), reading (books or magazines) about wildlife, watching TV or movies about wildlife, classroom activities about wildlife, and pet ownership.

Findings : Students exhibited all 8 attitudes toward wildlife. In order of frequency, they were: humanistic, naturalistic, moralistic, ecologistic, scientistic, utilitarian, negativistic, and dominionistic. There were no significant differences between girls and boys in any of the attitudes. This finding contrasts with Kellert & Berry's (1984) finding that adult American men scored significantly higher on the ecologistic, utilitarian, and dominionistic scales, reflecting greater emphasis on practical use of animals and on domination of animals for personal pleasure, whereas women scored higher on humanistic and moralistic scales showing greater attachment to animals and ethical concern. Kellert and Berry also found that children had similar attitudes but boys and girls were less different than men and women, suggesting that the difference came later. This study suggests that any gender difference should occur after age 14. Children with pets (75.2% of the sample) scored significantly higher on the humanistic and naturalistic scales and lower on the utilitarian and dominionistic ones. Children who camped (69.7%) showed no significant attitude differences from other children, contradicting both environmental educators' claims that direct contact changes attitudes and Kellert's (1977) finding that backpackers and campers had distinct views. A difference might had appeared, however, if this study had separated infrequent from frequent campers. Kids who read about wildlife (60.7%) had very significantly higher naturalistic and scientistic scores, while the non-readers had higher utilitarian scores. This suggests that people uninterested in wildlife expect for utilitarian reasons, such as hunters, should probably be reached through other media than print. Kids who watched nature shows (75.3%) had significantly higher humanistic, naturalistic, ecologistic, and scientistic scores. Kids who discussed wildlife in school (89.7%) showed no significant differences from other kids, but due to the large proportion reporting class coverage, all of the surveyed children had probably experienced such lessons, which would account for the lack of difference. The most frequent attitudes among children in this study were quite different from those reported by Kellert (1980) for American adults, who scored highest on humanistic, moralistic, utilitarian, and negativistic scales. Westervelt & Llewellyn (1985) found a predominance of humanistic views among 5th & 6th graders in the US, suggesting that nationality does not explain the difference between this study and Kellert's. If children's attitudes carry through to adulthood, attitudes toward wildlife in the future may be different from what they are today. The humanistic attitude's prevalence may cause problems for wildlife management, which often includes hunting. The large number of activities suggest that students are very interested in wildlife, and the gender difference in wildlife attitudes may be a thing of the past. The shift from farm animals and beast of burden to pets and wildlife in parks and the country as people's primary contact with animals may be the cause of a major shift from dominionistic and utilitarian attitudes toward humanistic and naturalistic ones.

Sample/population sampled : The sample included 145 students in 2 8th-grade and 3 6th-grade classes in Waterloo County public schools in Canada. The classes were chosen by the school board and the students were required to participate.


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