The role of gender in public perception of whether animals can experience grief and other emotions

Walker, Jessica K., McGrath, Nicky, Nilsson, Danielle L., Waran, Natalie K. and Phillips, Clive J. C. (2014) The role of gender in public perception of whether animals can experience grief and other emotions. Anthrozoos, 27 2: 251-266. doi:10.2752/175303714X13903827487601

Author Walker, Jessica K.
McGrath, Nicky
Nilsson, Danielle L.
Waran, Natalie K.
Phillips, Clive J. C.
Title The role of gender in public perception of whether animals can experience grief and other emotions
Journal name Anthrozoos   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0892-7936
Publication date 2014-06-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.2752/175303714X13903827487601
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 27
Issue 2
Start page 251
End page 266
Total pages 16
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing
Language eng
Subject 3304 Education
3314 Anthropology
1103 Animal Science and Zoology
3401 Veterinary (miscalleneous)
3312 Sociology and Political Science
Abstract Gender plays a significant role in influencing people's attitudes toward animals, however, little is known about how it influences their attribution of emotions to animals. To investigate the role that gender plays in public attitudes toward animals' experience of emotions and beliefs about whether animals can grieve, a face-to-face survey of 1,000 members of the general public was carried out in Brisbane, Australia. Potential respondents were asked to complete a 10-min "social attitudinal" survey. Males were significantly less likely than females to believe that animals experience complex emotions, including depression (p < 0.05), anxiety (p < 0.05), love (p < 0.01), and grief (p < 0.05), but did not differ in regard to basic emotions including distress, fear, happiness, anger, sadness, and fear. Males were also less likely to believe that animals show some behavioral (eating p < 0.05; vocalizing p < 0.01) changes when they experience grief (p < 0.05) and that animals grieve as a result of separation from a conspecific (p < 0.005). These results demonstrate a greater skepticism in males, compared with females, regarding the attribution of emotions to animals.
Keyword Animal welfare
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
School of Veterinary Science Publications
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