A new paper published in the February 2012 issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin suggests that meat-eaters downplay the mental abilities of the animals they eat. Participants in the study answered a series of questions that required them to rate animals’ mental abilities, including their emotional capacities and ability to plan. Researchers found a significant correlation between viewing certain animals as food and considering them to be mentally and emotionally inferior. Participants were also much less willing to eat animals that they deemed more mentally advanced. Science writer Art Markman explains in Psychology Today that the study illustrates the moral dilemma inherent in eating meat—one that is contemplated by meat-eaters on either a conscious or unconscious level.
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