According to the study, 41% of individuals who had experienced animal advocacy claimed that it influenced them to reduce their animal product consumption, with rates ranging from 24% for celebrity endorsements to 72% for reading a book about animal suffering.
ANDREA POLANCO: Many different approaches to advocacy exist within the animal protection movement, from talking to people you know about animal suffering, to sharing social media posts, to protesting in public spaces. Currently, we do not fully understand how these approaches affect people’s behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes towards farmed animals, or even how common they are.
We conducted two studies in the U.S. to address this topic as fully and accurately as possible. The first was a retrospective survey. It explored people’s experiences with different advocacy types within the last five years and measured their current behaviors and attitudes. This tells us how common animal advocacy is from the average person’s perspective and whether previously experiencing animal advocacy is associated with positive behavior and attitude changes towards farmed animals over the long term.
However, we can’t necessarily assume that animal advocacy caused those behaviors and attitudes from a study like this. To assess people’s perceptions of what is most impactful, we also directly asked them whether their most recent experience with animal advocacy changed any of their behaviors.
The second study was an experiment, which lets us be surer about causal direction (i.e., whether advocacy caused behavioral and attitudinal changes or instead, whether people with pro-animal behaviors or attitudes sought out advocacy). Here, we investigated the impact of many types of animal advocacy against a control condition on people’s immediate behaviors and attitudes towards farmed animals.
The ultimate goal of this project was to estimate how successful each advocacy type is across both the short- and long-term. While the retrospective survey gives us insightful information about what people think caused them to change their behavior and allows us to consider a wider range of advocacy types, the experiment provides stronger evidence of whether animal advocacy actually changes behavior, in a controlled setting with less opportunity for bias…
- News articles and social media posts reduced animal product consumption for people who identify as part of a meat-avoiding group, but not for full meat-eaters (omnivores).
- Protests showed inconsistent but troubling backfire effects for both meat-eaters and meat-avoiders, with disruptive protests causing more issues.
- Whether someone is a meat-eater or a meat-avoider also influences how they respond to advocacy, which in turn predicts their likelihood to take a diet pledge and to sign a petition.
- Educational information about animal welfare labels didn’t change people’s intentions to purchase animal products with or without a welfare label.
- People’s support to sign a welfare petition was influenced by the species targeted.
- 41% of individuals who had experienced animal advocacy claimed that it influenced them to reduce their animal product consumption, with rates ranging from 24% for celebrity endorsements to 72% for reading a book about animal suffering.
- Different animal advocacy methods were similarly effective across racial and ethnic groups, but some baseline differences point to the need for a deeper understanding.
- The results of this project primarily support the use of two forms of advocacy: social media posts and news articles.
- We also recommend forms of animal advocacy that were described as behavior-changing by people in Study 1 and that have been supported by causal evidence in other experiments: classroom education and meat-free challenges.
- We weakly recommend forms of advocacy that positively impacted meat-eaters’ intentions or beliefs, but had no impact on behavior: graphic videos, leaflets, non-graphic videos, and celebrities.
- We recommend caution around the use of advocacy types that have not been supported by experimental data: educational information about animal welfare labels, documentaries, and billboards.
- The limited evidence from our two studies suggests that protests aren’t helpful, and may in some cases cause harm.
- Advocates can ensure that their advocacy materials of any type are as impactful as possible by testing how people respond to them.
- Strong evidence about the impact of different advocacy types is still very limited, so more research is needed before making major changes to campaign or funding strategies. SOURCE…