Animal Tracker 2017: Behavior In The Past Year
Last week we shared the first public results from the 2017 Faunalytics Animal Tracker. The initial installment in our blog series provided an overview of the results and details of the methodology. In this blog, we focus in on the question of personal behavior and what actions people have taken during the past year.
As animal advocates, we talk a lot about changing hearts and minds. And rightly so. But in the end, it’s really about behavior. Most of our work on awareness-building, education, and persuasion is aimed at reducing suffering by convincing both individuals and institutions to change their behavior. To that end, this year’s Animal Tracker survey delved into a diverse range of animal issues. Here was the question:
In the past year, have you personally done any of the following?
Scale: Yes, No
- Adopted an animal
- Bought an animal
- Consumed a meat or dairy substitute
- Donated to an animal group
- Gone hunting or fishing
- Gone to a circus with animals
- Visited a zoo or aquarium
- Volunteered for an animal group
- Watched wildlife
As a follow-up question, we also asked about the frequency with which people took the above actions during the past year (often, sometimes, rarely, never). This question has much smaller sample sizes because it is only asked of those who said “yes” to a given behavior in the first question. Additionally, measuring behavior frequency makes more sense for some of these items than others. Due to these limitations, we won’t explore this question in our analysis, but will provide the details in other ways.
In the following sections, we explore demographic differences for these animal-related behaviors. We also examine trends over the past ten years by comparing our latest results with previous Animal Tracker findings. The complete details for all years and demographic groups will be released along with the last blog in this series. We will also be updating our graphing tool with 2017 data and releasing the full Animal Tracker dataset.
Below we focus on just the most recent Animal Tracker results (from March/April 2017) and differences by gender, age, level of formal education, ethnicity, geographic region, and if people have companion animals in the household.
Gender: Differences in animal-related behavior by gender are generally modest. Not surprisingly, the biggest difference is when it comes to hunting and fishing; 20% of men have done this in the past year versus 9% of women. The next most pronounced difference relates to consuming meat/dairy substitutes; 35% of women have done this in the past year compared to 27% of men. All other differences are within the error margin, but there are some indications that women were slightly more likely than men to have donated to an animal group, visited a zoo/aquarium, or volunteered for an animal group during the past year.
Age: Regarding behavior during the past year, there are surprisingly few differences between people of different age groups. Those aged 60 and older are significantly less likely than the overall population to have visited a zoo or aquarium during the past year (19% vs. 27%) and significantly more likely to have donated to an animal group (20% vs. 13%). Those in the 30-44 age group are more likely to have visited a zoo or aquarium during the past year (37% vs. 27%), presumably due to the likelihood of people in this group being parents. All other differences fell within the error margin for age subgroups.
Education: Continuing the previous theme, differences by level of formal education are modest when it comes to animal-related actions in the past year. Those with the most formal education (a bachelor’s degree or more) were the most likely group to visit a zoo or aquarium (38% vs. 27%) and most likely to consume a meat/dairy substitute (42% vs. 31%). Those with less formal education (a high school degree or less) were the least likely groups to consume meat/dairy substitutes (22%), representing a significant difference based on education level.
Ethnicity: As a representative survey, the Animal Tracker sample closely mirrors the demographic profile of the United States. That means that most respondents are white and that the sample sizes for other ethnic groups are very small, which reduces our ability to identify significant differences. With that said, there are only a few significant differences. White respondents are more likely to have watched wildlife and Black respondents are less likely to have donated to an animal group in the past year (perhaps due to income inequities).
Region: There are no significant differences in animal-related behavior by region of the U.S. We examined differences for the Northeast, Midwest, South, and West and all were within the error margin.
Companion Animals in Household: The Animal Tracker includes a segment for people who have at least one companion animal (cat, dog, fish, bird, gerbil, reptile, horse, or other) and we compare them with people who do not have any companion animals. Not surprisingly, people with companion animals are much more likely to report having adopted an animal in the past year (13% vs. 2%). They are also more likely to have bought an animal (7% vs. 2%), donated to an animal group (17% vs. 8%), watched wildlife (41% vs. 33%), or to have gone hunting/fishing (17% vs. 12%).
In the past year, have you personally done any of the following? (percent saying “yes”)
(Click or hover over labels for full text)
The Animal Tracker behavior questions have been asked four times, most recently in 2017, but also in 2014, 2011, and 2008. Most of the attitudinal questions included in the Animal Tracker show generally consistent results over time. The behavior question results are less consistent, even allowing for an error margin of +/- 3%. However, some of this is attributable to question formatting in early years of the Animal Tracker, where the survey forced a yes/no response for each behavior. In later years, the survey provided checkboxes. For this reason, the long-term behavior trends may not be accurate and our analysis focuses on recent trends, all of which show little to no change.
Adopted an Animal: The proportion of people who say they have adopted an animal in the past year remained constant from 2014 to 2017, at 8%. This figure represents a decline from previous years, but please see the note above about the accuracy of long-term trends.
Bought an Animal: Those saying they have bought an animal in the past year have also remained relatively constant, going from 6% in 2014 to 5% in 2017. In general, it appears that the proportion of people purchasing animals may be decreasing at a slightly faster rate than the longer-term decrease in animal adoptions.
Consumed a meat or dairy substitute: The percent of U.S. adults consuming a meat/dairy substitute in the past year increased by just over 2% from 2014 (29%) to 2017 (31%). However, this falls within the survey’s overall margin of error.
Donated to an animal group: The proportion of people who donated to an animal group in the past year increased by just over 3% from 2014 (10%) to 2017 (13%). This change appears to be significant, but is very close to the error margin.
Gone hunting or fishing: The percent of U.S. adults who went hunting or fishing in the past year decreased very slightly from 2014 (15.2%) to 2017 (14.6%), which is too small a change to register as significant.
Gone to a circus with animals: Those saying they went to a circus with animals in the past year decreased by just over 2% from 2014 (5%) to 2017 (3%). This is a significant change, but the difference is close to the error margin.
Visited a zoo or aquarium: The proportion of U.S. adults who visited a zoo or aquarium in the past year increased by just a little more than 1% from 2014 (26%) to 2017 (27%), not a meaningful change.
Volunteered for an animal group: The percent of adults who say they volunteered for an animal group in the past year increased by a little less than 1% from 2014 (2%) to 2017 (3%). However, this falls within the survey’s overall margin of error.
Watched wildlife: Those saying they watched wildlife in the past year increased by just over 2% from 2014 (36%) to 2017 (38%). Again, however, this falls within the survey’s overall margin of error.