People Care More About Animals Than They Did in the 70s

New study reveals shifting attitudes toward wolves, sharks, and bats.


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A study published in this month’s issue of science journal Biological Conservation found that attitudes toward traditionally stigmatized animals in the United States have shifted for the better. The survey—which included responses from 1287 participants—replicated a similar questionnaire from 1978, revealing that participants today expressed substantially more positive attitudes with regard to animals such as wolves, sharks, bats, vultures, and coyotes. The survey reported a 42 and 47 percent increase of positive attitudes toward wolves and coyotes, respectively. More broadly, the public opinion toward all species shifted from “domination” toward “harmony, care-taking, and empathy.” The survey concluded that “changing attitudes may be indicative of growing concern for the welfare of animals.” Major news outlet Washington Post analyzed this survey and linked people’s shifting attitudes to the driving force behind recent animal-rights victories such as legislation to stop orca breeding at SeaWorld, the retirement of Ringling Bros. circus elephants, the public outcry over trophy hunting as illustrated by the death of Cecil the Lion, and increased support of farmed animal protections.

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