Italian Youths'Attitudes toward, and Concern for, Animals

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This is the first comprehensive study of Italian youths'(9–18 years of age) attitudes and behaviors toward animals. Various aspects of child–animal relationships were analyzed, including pet ownership, pet attachment, pet loss, worries about pet, animal abuse (both perpetrated and witnessed), fears of animals, animals as a source of comfort, feelings toward road kill, and attitudes toward hunting, the use of furs and leather clothes, zoos, and the use of animals in circuses. Pupils from 12 schools anonymously completed a six-page self-administered questionnaire. From the total number of questionnaires received (about 2,200), 800 (403 F and 397 M) were randomly selected, which represented each school and all ages, and analyzed. Through this instrument numerous quantitative and qualitative data were obtained, some of which were also examined in the light of other significant aspects of Italian culture. One basic assumption underpinning this research is that attitudes and behaviors toward animals should always be investigated within a theoretical framework that also takes cultural context into consideration. On the whole, our results indicate that animals play an important role in Italian youths' lives, a role which many adults tend to underestimate. Though our approach is preeminently descriptive, our findings can provide hypotheses that can be tested in future research.


Document Type: Review Article


Publication date: September 1, 2007

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