Study sheds light on common beliefs about chickens and fish and how to use them for animal welfare advocacy
Animals used for food generally receive significantly less attention and funding than companion animals. Small-bodied animals like chickens and fish are killed in particularly massive numbers—there are over 200 times more chickens killed each year than cows, and over 3,000 times more fish killed than cows (Faunalytics, 2020; Sentient Media, 2018; The Economist, 2011).
The current study was created to help answer important questions regarding these animals: which beliefs do the public have about small-bodied animals, and which of these are associated with animal-positive behaviors? Specifically, we looked at how a number of beliefs related to both a willingness to sign a petition to reduce the suffering of each animal and a diet pledge to reduce the consumption of each. We believe that by answering these questions, advocacy efforts can become more targeted and effective.
- Some pro-animal beliefs are already reasonably common–for example, most people understand that air and water quality are important to chickens and fish.
- The beliefs that had the largest correlations with signing a pledge to reduce fish consumption were that fish are more intelligent than people give them credit for, that many farms have horrible living conditions, and that fish are loving.
- The beliefs that had the largest correlations with fish welfare petition signatures were that they are more intelligent than people give them credit for, that they are beautiful, and that many fish farms have horrible living conditions.
- The beliefs that had the largest correlations with signing a pledge to reduce chicken consumption were that chickens are beautiful, that they need room to explore and exercise, and that they are loving.
- The beliefs that had the largest correlations with chicken welfare petition signatures were that chickens need room to explore and exercise, that many chicken farms have horrible conditions, and that chickens are more intelligent than most people give them credit for.
- People were more likely to sign the petition than to take the dietary pledge.