University of Arkansas, Fayetteville Division of Agriculture
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Abstract

It is no secret that people possess radically differing opinions and philosophical beliefs regarding domesticated animals. These contradictory perceptions are especially evident when examining people’s thoughts regarding the mental capabilities of animals and issues related to animal welfare. To determine whether or not gender and social environments play a role in these various perceptions, a survey was formulated and randomly distributed to 1000 undergraduate students across the University of Arkansas campus. Upon examination of the survey results, some very intriguing correlations became apparent. Of particular interest were the differences between the perceptions of males and females regarding domesticated animals. Women who participated in the survey were significantly more likely to consider pets to be “members of the family” and were twice as likely as men to respond that animals possess a soul. Also, women were less likely to support animal research for medical advancement. These examples illustrate that woman generally hold animals in higher esteem than do men. Another conflicting set of responses came from survey participants who had children versus those who did not have children. According to analysis of participant responses, people with children were drastically less likely to respond that animals were capable of experiencing pain and pleasure. Participants with children were also less prone to consider their pets as “members of the family.” Owning pets also had a major impact on the way people viewed domesticated animals. People who owned pets were considerably more likely to respond that animals are capable of experiencing emotions such as love and anger. Also, those participants who own pets were much more apt to respond that domesticated animals are aware of their own existence. Gender and social environments were repeatedly shown to have a considerable influence on people’s responses regarding domesticated animals.

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