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Some animals are more equal than others: validation of a new scale to measure how attitudes to animals depend on species and human purpose of use

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Globally, many millions of animals are used by humans every year and much of this usage causes public concern. A new scale, devised to measure attitudes to animal use in relation to the purpose of use and species, the Animal Purpose Questionnaire (APQ), was completed by in total 483 participants, 415 British nationals and 68 participants from 39 other countries. The APQ was presented in two survey formats, alongside an established Animal Attitudes Scale (AAS). In both surveys, participants also provided demographic details to provide a context to their attitudes to animals. As might be expected, and consistent with the validity of the new scale, overall scores on the AAS and APQ were highly correlated. However, the APQ provided a more differentiated measure of attitudes to animal use across a variety of settings. The results showed that there was overall higher levels of agreement with the use of animals in medical research and basic science, less endorsement for food production and pest control, and the use of animals for other cultural practices was generally disapproved of, irrespective of species. Participants overall disagreed with the use of rabbits, monkeys, badgers, tree shrews (survey 1), chimpanzees, dogs, dolphins and parrots (survey 2), but were neutral about the use of rats, mice, pigs, octopus, chickens, zebrafish (survey 1), carp, chickens, pigs, pigeons, rabbits and rats (survey 2). Interactions between species and purpose were largely driven by the consideration of using diverse species for food production. In general, females and vegetarians expressed less agreement with the use of animals with some differences by purpose of use. Pet keeping consistently predicted reduced willingness to use animals for basic science (only). The APQ provides a new tool to unpack how public attitudes depend on the intersectionality of demographics, species and purpose of use.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0227948
Number of pages23
JournalPLoS One
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jan 2020


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