Changes In Attitudes Toward Animals In The Us From 1978-2014
June 30, 2019
More than three decades ago, Stephen Kellert surveyed N3000 Americans to gain a better understanding of their attitudes toward wildlife. We used a web-based questionnaire to survey a nationally representative sample of 1287 U.S. residents, replicating 26 single-item measures of attitudes toward animals from Kellert’s study. Attitudes toward all animals were remarkably similar in 1978 and 2014. The average change in rank was 2.1 (of 26), and species mean scores from 1978 and 2014 correlated at r = 0.95. Americans’ attitudes toward eight species exhibited substantive differences (Cohen’s d N 0.4). The greatest differences were for historically stigmatized species (e.g. bats, sharks, vultures, wolves and coyotes)—attitudes in 2014 were significantly more positive for these species. The majority of respondents reported positive attitudes toward wolves and coyotes, and the proportion of people reporting positive attitudes toward these species increased by 42 and 47%, respectively. The differences in attitudes witnessed in this study may be indicative of growing concern for the welfare of animals – both wild and domestic.
Author(s): Kelly A. George, Kristina M. Slagle, Robyn S. Wilson, Steven J. Moeller, Jeremy T. Bruskotter