Individual Differences in the Denial of Animal Mind

Tan, N. P. (University of Melbourne), Bastian. B. (University of Melbourne), Smilie, L. (University of Melbourne)

The meat paradox describes the conflict between the desire to eat meat and the distaste for animal cruelty. To facilitate this morally questionable behaviour, meat-eaters employ motivated cognitive processes such as the denial of animal mind. However, the role that individual differences may play in this process is unknown. Thus, we examine individual differences in the denial of animal mind, as a function of basic personality traits. Participants (N = 355, 40% female) completed a mind attribution task under two conditions: whilst viewing a picture of a farm animal (a) described as engaging in its normal behaviours, and (b) described as being processed for meat. Higher scorers on Emotional Volatility denied mind to a stronger degree than lower scorers, and lower scorers on Intellect denied mind to a stronger degree than higher scorers. In addition, lower Intellect strengthened the negative effect of Emotional Volatility on mind denial. These findings provide useful insights on how personality traits can help understand individual differences in the engagement of morally motivated cognitive processes.


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Moral Psychology Symposium