How children and adults value different animal lives

Henseler Kozachenko, Heather and Piazza, Jared (2021) How children and adults value different animal lives. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 210: 105204. ISSN 0022-0965

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The current study modeled the attributions underlying moral con- cern for animals during childhood and adulthood with the aim of better understanding how concern for animals develops. In total, 241 children aged 6–10 years and 152 adults appraised a range of animals on seven appraisal dimensions and, subsequently rank-ordered which animals they would save in a medicine allocation task. Structural equation modeling revealed several developmental continuities and discontinuities in the dimensions children and adults used to evaluate animal lives. Whereas participants of all ages valued animals based on their aesthetic qualities, intelligence, and perceived similarity to humans, younger children valued animal aesthetics most of all. They also valued benevolence in animals more than older children and adults. Only older children and adults comprehended and valued animals on the basis of their utility as food for humans. Furthermore, neither younger nor older children grasped the role of sentience in the valuation of animals. Only adults factored sentience into their view of what makes animals similar to humans and worthy of moral concern. The results highlight the ways in which moral concern for animals changes across development in several important respects, reflecting an increasingly human-centric orientation.

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Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Journal of Experimental Child Psychology
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This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 210, 2021 DOI: 10.1016/j.jecp.2021.105204
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21 Jun 2021 09:00
Last Modified:
15 Jul 2024 21:45