Attitudes Toward Animals: Species Ratings
Attempts to quantify people’s opinions about different species of animals by asking them to rate 33 species on the following six dimensions: useful-useless; smart-stupid; responsive-unresponsive; lovable-unlovable; safe-dangerous; and important-unimportant.
Hunting approved by 56.4% of the sample; 92.5% approved of fishing.
Product-testing research using animals was approved by 44% of the sample; 74.4% approved of medical research using animals; and 67.7% approved of scientific research using animals.
Attitudes of the animal shelter workers toward hunting, fishing and the three kinds of research were quite different from those of the larger sample. Only two persons in the animal shelter sample (20%) approved of hunting; seven persons (70%) approved of fishing. Only one person (10%) approved of product-testing research using animals, and two people (20%) approved of medical research and scientific research using animals.
Age did not affect attitudes toward hunting, fishing, or the three kinds of research. Gender significantly affected attitudes toward medical and scientific research, with a smaller percentage of women approving.
Medical research was approved by 62.7% of women but by 81.5% of male respondents ( 2 = 4.8, p = 0.028).
Scientific research with animals was approved by 54.9% of women and 75.3% of men ( 2 = 5.04, p = 0.025). No significant differences were found between men and women in attitudes toward hunting, fishing, or product-testing research using animals. Most popular animals were large mammals, especially primates and companion animals, and the most unpopular animals were biting invertebrates (mosquitoes).
American public’s evaluation of animals is based on (1) how a species has historically been regarded, (2) its utility to humans, and (3) our emotional reaction to the species.