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Understanding African Americans’ Attitudes toward Nonhuman Animals: Historical and Psychological Perspectives

In: Society & Animals
Authors:
Kaitlynn S. Richardson University of Illinois at Chicago IL USA

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Kelly C. Burke University of Illinois at Chicago IL USA

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Kairra N. Brazley University of Illinois at Chicago IL USA

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Tayler M. Jones University of Illinois at Chicago IL USA

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Bette L. Bottoms University of Illinois at Chicago IL USA

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Abstract

Historical and current literature is reviewed and social psychological theory is applied to support novel theories about African Americans’ attitudes toward nonhuman animals. Due to psychological reactions stemming from their brutal U.S. history, involving shared suffering with animals, African Americans are theorized to have either negative or positive beliefs about animals. Two studies revealed the latter: that African Americans have positive attitudes toward animals overall, as measured by a new, statistically reliable Attitudes toward Animals Scale. In Study 1, African American university students’ attitudes were somewhat less positive than White students’ attitudes, but in Study 2, older African American community members’ attitudes were more positive than Whites’. This cross-study difference, however, results from less positive White attitudes in Study 2, rather than from any important difference in African Americans’ attitudes across the two samples. The results and unique theoretical framework pave the way for future research on this important issue.

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