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The ‘me’ in meat: Does affirming the self make eating animals seem more morally wrong?

Leach, Stefan, Sutton, Robbie M., Douglas, Karen, Dhont, Kristof (2021) The ‘me’ in meat: Does affirming the self make eating animals seem more morally wrong? Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 95 . Article Number 104135. ISSN 0022-1031. (doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2021.104135) (KAR id:87536)


People typically extend limited moral standing to animals reared for food. Prominent perspectives in the literature on animal-human relations characterize this phenomenon as an outcome of moral disengagement: in other words, a strategy that protects people from moral self-condemnation. To provide a direct test of this hypothesis, we exposed people to a self-affirmation manipulation, and hypothesized that this would lead them to be more critical of their own meat eating and be more appreciative of animals’ minds and suffering. Three experiments tested this idea in meat-eaters from the United Kingdom. Two initial experiments (n = 244, n = 247) found that affirming the self made eating animals seem more morally wrong. However, a subsequent pre-registered experiment (n = 719) failed to replicate this effect. In addition, this experiment found no effects of the affirmationprocedure on specific beliefs about eating animals that participants consume compared to animals they do not consume. A mini-meta analysis of all the experiments found only weak evidence in support of the idea that affirming the self makes eating meat seem more morally wrong. There was no evidence that the affirmation procedure affected beliefs about animal minds.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1016/j.jesp.2021.104135
Uncontrolled keywords: Meat, Animals, Morality, Self-affirmation
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: 10 Apr 2021 13:34 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2024 16:12 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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