Humankind’s Best Friend vs. Humankind’s Best Food: Perceptions of Identifiable Dog vs. Pig Victims

Sarah Gradidge1, Annelie J. Harvey1, Daragh T. McDermott2 & Magdalena Zawisza1

1Department of Psychology, Anglia Ruskin University
2Department of Psychology, Nottingham Trent University

Current animal victimology and speciesism research has predominantly focussed on anthropocentric speciesism (prejudice favouring humans over animals) and neglects pet speciesism (prejudice favouring pets over non-pets). Moreover, research rarely explores whether identifiability of animal victims affects perceptions of them in line with the identifiable (human) victim effect. Drawing on speciesism and dehumanization theories, the current experiment addressed these gaps in the literature by comparing 160 adult participants’ perceptions of a dog vs. pig victim of kidnapping. As predicted, a MANOVA confirmed that people feel more empathy for, and are more willing to help, dogs (vs. pigs). Conversely, people expressed greater victim derogation towards pigs (vs. dogs). Participants also displayed more second-hand forgiveness for perpetrators of crime against pig (vs. dog) victims. However, species had no effect on victim blaming and identifiability of the animal victim had no effect on perceptions of the animal, and there were no significant species x identifiability interactions. The current experiment uniquely extends our human-based knowledge to perceptions of dog vs. pig victims and further evidences the existence of pet speciesism. It also highlights that the identifiable (human) victim effect may not apply to animal victims, thus distinguishing animal victimology as a distinct area of investigation. Theoretical implications for animal victimology and pet speciesism literature, and practical implications for policy and public perceptions of animal victims, are discussed.

Keywords: pet speciesism, anthropocentric speciesism, dog, pig, identifiable victim effect

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Keywords: anthropocentric speciesism, dog, identifiable victim effect, pet speciesism, pig
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