Graduation Date

Spring 2023

Document Type

Thesis

Program

Master of Arts degree with a major in Psychology, option Academic Research

Committee Chair Name

Dr. Amber M. Gaffney

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Dr. Christopher Walmsley

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Dr. Justin Hackett

Third Committee Member Affiliation

Community Member or Outside Professional

Subject Categories

Psychology

Abstract

The current study aims to expand on the human-animal relations literature through a social identity lens, using 231 participants recruited from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Americans consume large amounts of meat, yet many people feel morally conflicted by enjoying meat, yet killing animals. These feelings can be tied to one’s identity, through identifying as a vegetarian, meat-eater, or animal lover. Humans tend to attach themselves to a social group, act on behalf of that group’s norms and values, and use their groups to reduce feelings of uncertainty by adopting group normative attitudes and behaviors. People who identify strongly with all of humanity tend to hold favorable views of outgroups and express empathy towards outgroups, which may or may not extend to non-human animals (identification with all of humanity; IWAH). However, if people identify strongly with all of humanity, do conditions that exacerbate intergroup perceptions lead them to denigrate and hold less empathy for animals? This study explores whether or not all of humanity can form a salient and coherent identity for people experiencing uncertainty. If so, then the benefits of IWAH (less prejudice and more empathy as IWAH increases) should not extend to non-human animals when people experience uncertainty and look to distinguish the ingroup from a relevant outgroup. Perhaps IWAH captures “global community” rather than a distinct identity and connection with all of humanity? This study predicts that IWAH will produce greater beliefs that animals have human-like qualities (e.g., empathy, personality), particularly when an animal is described in a humanized way; however, this effect will be weakened (or will disappear) in conditions of high uncertainty. Findings did not support the hypotheses; however results and null findings are discussed in terms of implications for future research and theory development examining IWAH from a self-categorization perspective.

Citation Style

APA

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