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The Moral Divide between High- and Low-Status Animals: The Role of Human Supremacy Beliefs

Krings, Victoria C, Dhont, Kristof, Salmen, Alina (2021) The Moral Divide between High- and Low-Status Animals: The Role of Human Supremacy Beliefs. Anthrozoös, . ISSN 0892-7936. (doi:10.1080/08927936.2021.1926712) (KAR id:85811)

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People endorsing stronger beliefs in human supremacy over animals typically show less moral concern for animals. Yet how people think about different types of animals also depends on the role of the animals in society. For instance, people are less concerned about food animals than about companion animals. It is unclear, however, how human supremacy beliefs relate to this perceived moral divide between different types of animals. In two survey studies conducted in samples of British adults (N = 196 and N = 256), we tested whether human supremacy beliefs are associated with a greater perceived moral divide between high-status animals such as companion animals and low-status animals such as food animals. In both studies, participants rated the extent to which they felt obligated to show moral concern to a range of animals and completed the human supremacy beliefs scale. As expected, the results showed that participants felt more moral concern for companion animals (e.g., dogs and cats) and appealing wild animals (e.g., dolphins and chimps) than for food animals (e.g., pigs and turkeys) and unappealing wild animals (e.g., frogs and bats). Critically, confirming our hypotheses, this moral divide between high- and low-status animals was significantly larger for those holding stronger human supremacy beliefs. Furthermore, the effect of human supremacy beliefs held after controlling for gender, age, diet, and social dominance orientation. These findings suggest that beliefs in human supremacy over animals may serve as a legitimizing strategy to preserve not only the existing human-animal hierarchy but also greater hierarchical divides between animals.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/08927936.2021.1926712
Uncontrolled keywords: Group dominance, human–animal interaction, human supremacy beliefs, ideology, moral concern
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Signature Themes: Food Systems, Natural Resources and Environment
Depositing User: Kristof Dhont
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2021 14:22 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Dec 2021 23:10 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Dhont, Kristof:
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