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Addressing behavior and policy around meat: associating factory farming with animal cruelty “works” better than zoonotic disease

Ghunter, Olivia E., MacInnis, Cara C., Hodson, Gordon, Dhont, Kristof (2023) Addressing behavior and policy around meat: associating factory farming with animal cruelty “works” better than zoonotic disease. Anthrozoos, 36 (6). pp. 1099-1113. ISSN 0892-7936. E-ISSN 1753-0377. (doi:10.1080/08927936.2023.2243738) (KAR id:102637)


Research on shifting attitudes or behaviors surrounding the use of animal products traditionally focuses on animal cruelty. How this approach may differ from exposure on the zoonotic disease transmission risk factory farms pose is unclear. The present study sought to examine how information regarding zoonotic disease may stimulate concern for animals/concern for human health, respectively, and thus predict lower willingness to consume meat, when compared with animal cruelty and a control condition. The extent to which such information could shift support for changing conditions on factory farms was also examined. In a preregistered experiment (n = 454), participants were exposed to an informative paragraph on either (a) zoonotic disease transmission risk from factory farming, (b) animal cruelty on factory farms, or (c) a control paragraph. Those in the animal-cruelty condition were significantly more likely to indicate lower meat consumption willingness and higher support for changing conditions on factory farms, when compared with the two other conditions. Concern for animal health and welfare mediated the relationship between the combined experimental conditions and both dependent variables, when compared with the control condition. Upon examining the moderating role of human supremacy beliefs (HSB), a conditional effect was found across all conditions, with higher HSB predicting higher meat consumption willingness and lower support for changing conditions on factory farms. This study offers evidence for the intervention potential of informative excerpts. These findings also emphasize animal cruelty as a more effective way to mobilize support for behaviors and policies aimed at reducing animal-product consumption.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/08927936.2023.2243738
Uncontrolled keywords: Animal cruelty; COVID-19; factory farming; human–animal interaction; meat consumption; zoonotic disease
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Funders: University of Kent (
Depositing User: Kristof Dhont
Date Deposited: 31 Aug 2023 21:17 UTC
Last Modified: 03 Apr 2024 13:50 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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