Like other cultural variants, tastes in companion animals (pets) can shift rapidly. An analysis of American Kennel Club puppy registrations from 1946 through 2003 (N = 48,598,233 puppy registrations) identified rapid but transient large-scale increases in the popularity of specific dog breeds. Nine breeds of dogs showed particularly pronounced booms and busts in popularity. On average, the increase (boom) phase in these breeds lasted 14 years, during which time annual new registrations increased 3,200%. Equally steep decreases in registrations for the breeds immediately followed these jumps in popularity. The existence of extreme fluctuations in preferences for dog breeds has implications for understanding changes in attitudes toward companion animals, veterinary epidemiology, and canine evolution.
Much of the research on attitudes toward non-human species has been conducted with non-representative samples. Largely ignored in the literature on human/animal interactions are surveys conducted by commercial polling organizations using large probability samples of Americans. Many of these surveys contain information relevant to attitudes about animals and animal welfare issues. This information is available to researchers electronically at little or no cost through organizations such as the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research and the National Opinion Research Center.
We examined the relationship between personal moral philosophy, gender, and judgments of the effectiveness of materials designed by advocacy groups to sway public opinion about biomedical research using nonhuman animals. Twenty-six male and 74 female undergraduates evaluated 16 advertisements or brochures developed by groups which either supported or opposed animal research. The subjects also completed the Ethics Position Questionnaire (EPQ) and were offered the opportunity to sign postcards urging their congressperson to either support or eliminate federal funding of animal research. Females perceived the anti-animal research materials to be more effective than did the males, a difference that was not found in the case of the pro-animal research materials. The idealism dimension of the EPQ and gender accounted for a significant portion of the variation in judgments of the effectiveness of the anti-animal research materials but not the pro-animal research materials. The pattern of postcard signing was predicted by the subjects' evaluations of the stimulus materials but not gender or the EPQ variables.
The authors examined the relationship between personality and attitudes toward the treatment of animals by administering the Sixteen Personality Factor Inventory and the Animal Attitudes Scale to 99 college students. The personality scales were only weakly related to attitudes about animal welfare issues. Two personality factors, sensitivity and imaginativeness, were significantly correlated with attitudes towards animals. Gender and sensitivity explained 25% of the variance in attitudes, with most of the variance accounted for by gender.
Mail-in surveys were distributed to animal activists attending the 1996 March for the Animals. Age and genderdemographic characteristics of the 209 activists who participated in the study were similar to those of the 1990 March for the Animals demonstrators. Most goals of the animal rights movement were judged to be moderately to critically important, although beliefs about their chances of being realized varied considerably. Movement tactics judged to be least effective included the liberation of laboratory animals and the harassment of researchers. Education was seen as being a particularly important instrument of future social change. Demonstrators' scores on the Life Orientation Test - a measure of dispositional optimism - were significantly greater than scores of comparison groups of college students and of patients awaiting coronary bypass surgery. There was a significant positive relationship between levels of optimism and activists' perceptions of the achievement of movement objectives.