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When is it wrong to eat animals? The relevance of different animal traits and behaviours

Leach, Stefan, Sutton, Robbie M., Dhont, Kristof, Douglas, Karen M. (2020) When is it wrong to eat animals? The relevance of different animal traits and behaviours. European Journal of Social Psychology, . ISSN 0046-2772. (doi:10.1002/ejsp.2718) (KAR id:83232)

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Research suggests that animals’ capacity for agency, experience, and benevolence predict beliefs about their moral treatment. Four studies built on this work by examining how fine‐grained information about animals’ traits and behaviours (e.g., can store food for later vs. can use tools) shifted moral beliefs about eating and harming animals. The information that most strongly affected moral beliefs was related to secondary emotions (e.g., can feel nostalgia), morality (e.g., will share food with others), empathy (e.g., can feel others pain), social connections (e.g., will look for deceased family members), and moral patiency (e.g., can feel pain). In addition, information affected moral judgements in line with how it affected superordinate representations about animals’ capacity for experience/feeling but not agency/thinking. The results provide a fine‐grained outline of how, and why, information about animals’ traits and behaviours informs moral judgements.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1002/ejsp.2718
Uncontrolled keywords: Animals, Morality, Mind Attribution, Meat Eating
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Robbie Sutton
Date Deposited: 02 Oct 2020 13:51 UTC
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2021 09:55 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Leach, Stefan:
Sutton, Robbie M.:
Dhont, Kristof:
Douglas, Karen M.:
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