Childhood Pet keeping and Humane Attitudes in Young Adulthood
A questionnaire survey of 385 UK-based university students was used to investigate whether there was an association between pet keeping in childhood and humane attitudes in young adulthood. Subjects gave detailed, retrospective reports of the pets they had kept during their childhoods, and a variety of attitude scales and open-ended questions were used to measure their current attitudes concerning the welfare of both animals and humans. Higher levels of childhood pet keeping were related to more positive attitudes towards pet animals and greater concerns about the welfare of non-pet animals and humans. Ethical food avoidance practices (eg vegetarianism); membership of animal welfare and environmental organizations were also found to be associated with pet keeping during childhood. Knowledge of the experiences that underlie existing variation in humane attitudes will greatly assist the development of more effective humane education programmes in the future.
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