Normalizing passive cruelty: The excuses and justifications of animal hoarders

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Press reports frequently characterize animal hoarders as bad, mad, or sad people. This descriptive study identifies the accounts hoarders use to neutralize these negative portrayals. A total of 163 articles representing 118 hoarding cases between 2000 to 20003 were content-analyzed. Findings indicate that hoarders employ a variety of justifications and excuses to explain and normalize their treatment of animals. Justifications include denying wrongdoing, being a Good Samaritan, and professing to be victims of the system, while excuses include attributing their poor performance to external events, appealing to defeasibility, scapegoating, and self-handicapping. The results point to the value of these accounts to hoarders as well as to authorities and experts who deal with and manage this behavior.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2005

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