7 February 2019
A multidimensional measure of animal ethics orientation – developed and applied to a representative sample of the Danish public
By T. B. Lund, S. V. Kondrup & P. Sandøe
PLoS ONE. PLOS
We present a questionnaire-based measure of four animal ethics orientations. The orientations, which were developed in light of existing empirical studies of attitudes to animal use and ethical theory, are: animal rights, anthropocentrism, lay utilitarianism, and animal protection. The two latter orientations can be viewed as variants of animal welfarism. Three studies were conducted in Denmark in order to identify the hypothesised orientations, evaluate their concurrent validity, and report their prevalence and relevance in animal-related opinion formation and behaviour. Explorative factor analysis (Study 1) and confirmative factor analysis (Study 2) successfully identified the four orientations. Study 2 revealed good measurement invariance, as there was none or very modest differential item functioning across age, gender, living area, and contrasting population segments. Evaluation of concurrent validity in Study 2 found that the orientations are associated with different kinds of behaviour and opinion when the human use of animals is involved in the hypothesised directions. In Study 3, a representative population study, the animal protection orientation proved to be most prevalent in the Danish population, and as in study 2, the four orientations were associated with different behaviours and opinions. Remarkably, the animal protection orientation does not lead to increased animal welfare-friendly meat consumption, the main reason for this being non-concern about the current welfare status of farm animals. We argue that the developed measure covers a wide range of diversity in animal ethics orientations that is likely to exist in a modern society such as Denmark and can be used in future studies to track changes in the orientations and to understand and test hypotheses about the sources and justifications of people’s animal-related opinions and behaviours.
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