These are the main projects currently underway at Faunalytics.
Longitudinal Study of Veg*n Retention
Four years ago, Faunalytics conducted ground-breaking research showing that there are far more former vegetarians and vegans than current ones. Thanks to generous funding from VegFund and the Animal Advocacy Research Fund, we are now conducting a longitudinal study looking at how new veg*ns transition to and maintain their new diets in the crucial early months. In partnership with Carleton University (Ottawa, ON, Canada), we recently launched a six-month longitudinal study looking at which habits, tools, and resources help people stick with the diet over time, so that advocacy groups can target their messages effectively and retain as many as possible.
This study is pre-registered on the Open Science Framework.
Using Social Norms Messages in Advocacy
In this campus-based randomized controlled trial, we will test the efficacy of messages about social norms (other people’s behavior) for reducing meat consumption using real food purchases. This study will provide valuable information about the best ways to talk about changing trends in meat consumption and veg*nism.
Once the design is finalized, this study’s design and analysis plan will be posted on the Open Science Framework.
Why We Retain Some Advocates and Lose Others
As an organization focused on capacity-building, Faunalytics is intensely interested in the question of why some advocates lapse after a few months or years and others stay engaged with the movement long-term. This question is complex and multi-faceted, but very important. Some of the factors we are considering for inclusion in the survey are emotional burnout, social support, feelings of making a meaningful contribution, and perceptions of conflict within the movement.
Once the design is finalized, this study’s design and analysis plan will be posted on the Open Science Framework.
Donating To One Animal Versus All Animals
Often, being an effective advocate means helping as many animals as possible, but evidence is mixed about whether this is the most effective way to solicit donations. Psychological research has found that people are often more willing to give to an “identifiable victim,” which suggests that a single individual who represents the cause, like Hope the Pig, may encourage more donations than a statistic about the number of individuals suffering. At the same time, the type of people who are willing to donate to farmed animals may differ in their motivations from those who donate to other causes, like companion animals.
In this study, we will test the impact of a donation appeal for farmed vs. companion animals using a single individual versus statistics about total suffering. The design and analysis plan will be posted on the Open Science Framework before the study runs.
Data-Driven Grant-Making for Animals
Faunalytics is working with a small group of animal funders to create a new database and global mapping tool for animal-related grants. Currently in private beta with about 16,000 grant records, the short-term focus of the tool is to help animal-related funders identify areas of potential need and find opportunities to collaborate with other grantmakers.
The following list presents Faunalytics’ completed original studies in reverse chronological order, beginning with the most recent.
Tracking Animal-Related Attitudes and Behavior (2008 – 2019)
In 2019 Faunalytics completed the 12th year of the animal protection movement’s only longitudinal study of opinions and behavior about animal issues. The Animal Tracker covers a wide range of animal topics and provides detailed demographic information for a representative sample of U.S. adults.
Impact of Corporate Commitments on Consumer Attitudes: A Qualitative Study (May 2019)
The primary goal of corporate lobbying for welfare reform is to improve the lives of large numbers of animals at once. Early campaigns have been successful, but the continued success of this movement relies on momentum and corporations’ perceptions that the changes will improve their bottom line. It is important for advocates to understand the public reaction to successful campaigns in order to anticipate barriers and benefits to future actions.
This study’s results provide good news for corporations and the advocates who work with them.
Characteristics of People who Donate to Animal Causes (February 2019)
With a representative U.S. sample of more than 1,000 donors to animal causes, this study provides an in-depth look at who donates, as well as detailed information about how and why they prefer to do so. Advocacy groups can use the results to shape their donation appeals and methods. The results also inform future research comparing different approaches to increasing donations to animal causes.
Labeling Plant-Based Meat Alternatives to Appeal to Meat Consumers (January 2019)
This study examined existing and novel names for plant-based meat alternatives. It provides data about U.S. meat consumers’ relative preferences for the different labels, and whether demographics play a significant role. These findings can be used by advocates and manufacturers to increase the appeal of plant-based options and target their appeals more effectively.
Animal-Focused Reanalysis of a Donor Dataset (November 2018)
About 1% of all charitable giving goes to animal-related causes, which needs to change for advocates to have the resources they need. Faunalytics reanalyzed a dataset provided by the Blackbaud Institute and Edge Research to get a detailed profile of people who donate to animal causes. The results are insightful and have helped us in planning more research on this important topic.
Pork or Pig? Beef or Cow? Using Standard Euphemisms vs. Explicit Language (November 2018)
In two randomized controlled trials (RCTs) Faunalytics tested whether referring to meat by the animal it came from would have an immediate effect on attitudes or reported consumption. To our surprise, the answer was no!
Attitudes toward Farmed Animals in BRIC Countries (September 2018)
We completed a multi-national “BRIC” study to compare attitudes and behavior regarding farmed animals and veg*nism across five different countries (including the U.S.). The BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India, and China — are rapidly increasing their consumption of animal products, yet there is little research for these countries. The research revealed that most BRIC residents favor better farmed animal welfare laws, and much more!
Naturalness Concerns And Clean Meat Acceptance (August 2018)
Faunalytics completed a randomized controlled trial to find ways of describing “clean” meat (from cells, not animals) that could address naturalness concerns and increase acceptance. We found that 66% of people were willing to try clean meat, 46% were willing to buy clean meat regularly, and 53% were willing to eat clean meat as a replacement for conventional meat!
How Does Video Outreach Impact Pork Consumption? (February 2018)
In partnership with Animal Equality, Faunalytics conducted a randomized controlled trial in a realistic animal advocacy context. The results showed that Animal Equality’s pig-focused videos had a significant impact on pork consumption compared to a no-video control condition. In addition to the full report, we also published a post about lessons learned from this large-scale field study to help others who want to undertake similar research.
Study of Current and Former Vegetarians and Vegans (December 2014)
This comprehensive study examined key factors in current and former vegetarians’ and vegans’ decisions to adopt (and sometimes give up) their diets. Results were drawn from a representative sample of more than 11,000 adults in the U.S. and showed that approximately 4 in 5 vegetarians resume eating meat at some point.
Semi-Vegetarianism and Meat Reduction (2007)
Although a bit older, this study still holds important findings for animal and vegetarian/vegan advocates. It employed quantitative and qualitative research methods to collect rich data on the meat consumption habits of U.S. adults. We focused on profiling different types of consumers, including semi-vegetarians, as well as exploring meat reduction and the motivations for encouraging meat reduction.
The potential studies described below are a subset of those we are currently considering and seeking funding to support. Additional considerations include: an experimental test of interventions to encourage animal donors to switch their donations to more effective causes; a deep dive into farmed animal attitudes in China or Brazil; and research investigating the best route to bring in new advocates (e.g., via the companion animal or anti-vivisection causes).
Evaluation of Humane Education
Humane education with children is one of the most theoretically promising avenues for expanding the ranks of animal empathizers and advocates, but one of the least studied. Faunalytics would like to undertake this challenging task by partnering with humane educators of school-aged children to collect much-needed data about the effects of humane education. In this study, we would compare the outcomes of children who receive humane education against a control group of age-matched students from the same schools. This methodologically-rigorous design will allow us to make strong claims about the effectiveness of the humane education program.
Funding sought: $16,000
Corporate Campaigns, Part 2: Experimental Follow-Up
Faunalytics is currently conducting a study of natural consumer responses to corporate cage-free egg commitments. The current study will provide an overview of the type and prevalence of responses to welfare commitments. We would like to take this study a step further by investigating key responses—for instance, complacency versus motivation for more reform—in more detail. We plan to run a simple experiment to provide strong causal information about how different ways of pursuing or presenting reform influence consumer acceptance and behavior.
Funding sought: $11,700
All-Cause Donation Partitioning
How do donors make decisions about which types of animal causes to support? Does more money going to companion animals necessarily mean less to farmed animals, or is it just that companion animal causes are much more visible? Using an experimental design, we will look at how much people donate when they have just the option of donating to a farmed animal cause versus the option of donating to multiple animal causes at once.
Funding sought: $3,000
Prioritizing Research Topics
Faunalytics strives to maximize the effectiveness of our original research in a number of ways. Recently, we have begun to formalize a cause prioritization process that we have used for years. Research topics are prioritized according to their potential impact. Impact can take different forms, which we prioritize in this order. Click each item below to expand.
Faunalytics’ core mission is to help animals through research. Our top priority is projects with the potential to save or improve the lives of as many animals as possible. The vast majority of our original research has focused on farmed animals.
Faunalytics is a capacity-building organization. We empower advocates from all backgrounds by getting them the data they need to help animals. Advocates are at the driving force behind change for animals, and we recognize the potential of the ripple effect. Empowering one advocate has the potential to help many animals directly, and many more indirectly as they pass on their knowledge and bring in more advocates.
This prioritization metric is new in 2019. We will leave room in our research program for a few projects with quick turnaround and direct impact on high-level decision-makers. The best example of this type of project would be collecting data to support or refute an imminent debate on proposed legislation.
Animal advocates work on an extremely wide range of issues, with an equally wide range of support and background research. Although we do not actively seek out this type of project, we allow a small amount of space in our program for basic research on virtually-unstudied topics. In areas where advocates have no data at all, even small-scale, low-cost research can have a long-term impact for animals if it changes how they approach a problem.
Projects that fall under more than one section are particularly valuable to the movement as a whole. At Faunalytics, this has led to an increasing emphasis in recent years on identifying “meta” research projects: Those of value to advocates in all areas of advocacy.