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From pets to pests: Testing the scope of the 'pets as ambassadors' hypothesis

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2/02/2021
Publication StatusAccepted/In press
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Positive relationships with pets can sometimes foster more positive judgments of
other animals. The present study sought to examine the scope of this ‘Pets as
Ambassadors’ effect in relation to four meaningful animal categories (companion,
farmed, predators, and pests) derived from the Animal Images Database (Animal.ID).
The Animal.ID contains ratings from 376 Portuguese individuals on pet attachment and several dimensions related to animal attributes and moral concern for 120 different animals, which offered insights into the scope and nature of the pets as ambassadors effect. Pet attachment was related positively to ethical concern for animals and lower levels of speciesism. The relationship between pet attachment and animal attributions were expressed, beyond companion animals, most consistently for predators and farmed animals, and least of all pests. The benefits of pet attachment centered mostly on aesthetic judgments and benevolent feelings towards predators and farmed animals, sentience attributions for pests, and concerns about the killing of all animal groups for human consumption. Pet attachment did not reliably relate to the
attributions individuals made about the intelligence or dangerousness of animals, or their similarity to humans. The findings help clarify how pets might serve as
ambassadors for other animals.