Childhood origins of supernurturance: The social context of early humane behavior

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The present study examined how strong humane inclinations in children are shaped and encouraged through interactions with human and nonhuman animals. Ethnographic interviews were conducted with 30 supernurturing children and 30 parents attending a pre-veterinary summer camp operated by an American university. Themes associated with supernurturance included validating the importance of animals, teaching nurturance, identifying as an animal person, seeing animals as helpers, and assuming responsibility. Results suggest that a single magic bullet cannot be tweaked to instill or heighten compassion for animals. Rather, an array of social psychological factors together contribute to animal supernurturing by children.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2003

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