Awareness of Ethical Treatment of Animals within Students

Awareness of Ethical Treatment of Animals within Students

Helen Litsky
Columbia Southern University

Awareness of Ethical Treatment of Animals within Students
Literature Review
Ethical treatment of animals is concerned with ensuring that the welfare of animals is considered and attended to as humans interact with them. Animal welfare goes beyond cruelty, pain, and suffering, implicated in animals to ensure that their physical and mental states are protected so that they can fulfill their natural needs and desires. Little research has been carried out to assess the awareness of animals’ ethical treatment within students. There is, however, a significant body of literature available regarding the human attitudes towards ethical treatment and welfare of animals. Since these attitudes and beliefs correlate with awareness of ethical treatment of animals within students, it is important that they be reviewed.
Gender is among the most prevalent variables related to attitudes towards animals’ ethical treatment. A study by Matthews and Herzog (1997) on the personalities of undergraduate psychology students at Western Carolina University showed that women had more positive attitudes towards animal welfare as compared to men. Similarly, a review of gender differences in human interaction with animals, in 31 studies, confirmed that women were always more sympathetic in the treatment of animals than men were (Herzog, 2007). A more recent survey of university students in 11 countries in Europe confirmed that females have a greater concern for ethical treatment of animals than males (Phillips et al., 2011). This was greater in countries where women are less dependent on men. According to Phillip et al. (2011), longer time associations with pets, which women have more often, compared to men, significantly influence their attitudes towards animals. This kind of disparity with regard to sex was also reported in a study of Chinese university students’ attitudes towards ethical treatment (Davey, 2006). It was reported that disparity within sex could be explained by the fact that women tend to be more empathetic than men. Research has revealed a significant correlation between empathy and attitudes towards animal welfare and ethical treatment. Signal and Taylor (2007) sampled undergraduate psychology and sociology students’ results, according to which, females showed a more positive score on attitudes towards animals than males did.
In aIDition, disparities in awareness of animals’ ethical treatment across cultures have been studied. A study carried out by Phillips and McCulloch (2005) revealed that Students from Europe and, to some extent, from the USA are less likely to condone cruelty to farm animals as compared to those from Asian countries. Whereas European students reported deeper concern for suffering in life than their colleagues from Asia did, there was no difference when it came to concern over the suffering of animals. A separate study, done among Chinese students regarding the understanding of ethical treatment of animals, showed that the students had a strong concern for animal treatment across a wide spectrum of issues (Davey, 2010). This pointed out that awareness of animals’ ethical treatment is not shallow among all students from Asia, and it agrees with recent research evidence that Chinese society displays a general positive attitude towards animal welfare (Davey, 2010).
Use of animals as experimental specimen is one of the most important topics with regard to students’ awareness of ethical treatment of animal. This is owing to the fact that it is the most common platform where students interact with animals in ways that disrupt their natural enjoyment of life, and it often leads to pain and suffering to the animals. Crettaz von Roten (2008) performed a review of trends in animal experimentation in Switzerland in the decade preceding his study. A clear reduction in the percentage of people, who supported the use of animals in research, was established. The percentage of students who agreed with the use of animals in research had dropped from 62.4% to 34.7% between the years 1994 and 2005 respectively. This is an indicator of improvement in awareness of ethical treatment of animals. The awareness of animals’ ethical treatment can also be gleaned from the reduction in students with positive attitudes towards science, and hence, animal experimentation. For instance, there was a decrease in the support of such research from 81.3% to 68.3 % between 2000 and 2005 respectively (Crettaz von Roten, 2008). With regard to sex, the study reported that men agreed more to animal experimentation than women did. The decrease in students’ positive perception of animal experimentation was also reported among Chinese students (Davey, 2006). 80% of the University students from Guangdong province, surveyed by Davey, disagreed that continued animal experimentation was necessary in the fight to conquer diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and HIV. Similarly, 69 % of the students were against the use of animals like rabbits in the experimentation of cosmetics and household products.
The way humans perceive farm animals and pets is also imperative to the current study. Various researchers have studied the awareness of ethical treatment of animals in relation to how they are housed and handled. Heleski and Zanella (2006) did a survey of 87 students from Michigan State University, aiming to assess their attitudes and knowledge about farm animals. 29 of the 87 students were studying applied animal behavior, while 58 were in introductory animal science course. Whereas only 40% of the students in their introductory science course showed some concern with how farm animals in modern systems are housed and managed, 70% of the students, studying animal behavior science, expressed concerns. When a similar survey was done on veterinary students, they scored lower than their counterparts did in animal behavior science. Concerning pets, female students and pet owners have been found to hold more favorable attitudes towards their pet animals than non-owners and males (Perrine & Osbourne, 1998)
Having noted that there is little research on the awareness of animals’ ethical treatment, the current study will try to bridge the gap in knowledge. The study will build on the existing research on attitudes towards animal welfare to link it with ‘awareness of animals’ ethical treatment within students.

References
Crettaz von Roten, F. (2008). Mapping perceptions of animal experimentation: trend and explanatory factors. Social Science Quarterly, 89 (2), 537 – 549.
Davey, G. (2006). Chinese university students’ attitudes toward the ethical treatment and welfare of animals. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 9 (4), 289-297
Herzog, H.A. (2007). Gender differences in human-animal interactions: A review. Anthrozoos, 20 (1), 7 – 21.
Heleski, C. & Zanella, A. (2006). Animal science student attitudes toward farm animal welfare. Anthrozoos, 19 (1), 3 – 16
Matthews, S. & Herzog, H.A. (1997). Personality and attitudes towards the treatment of animals. Society and Animals, 5 (2), 169-175.
Signal, T. & Taylor, N. (2007). Attitude to animals and empathy: Comparing animal protection and general community samples. Anthrozoos, 20 (2), 125 – 130.
Perrine, R.M., & Osbourne, H.L. (1998). Personality characteristics of dog and cat persons. Anthrozoos, 11 (1), 33-40.
Phillips, C. J. C., Izmirli, S., Adulvood, S. J., Alonso, M., Choe, B. I., Hanlon, A., Rehn, T. (2011). An international comparison of female and male students’ attitudes to the use of animals. Animals, 12, 7–26
Phillips, C.J. C. & McCulloch, S. (2005). Student attitudes on animal sentience and use of animals in society. Journal of Biological Education, 40(1), 17-24.

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