Research Agenda
photo_camera Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals
Calves In A Sale Yard

Last updated May 1, 2021.

Table of contents

Table of contents

Foundational questions for effective animal advocacy

In-progress research projects

Animals, Food, and Technology survey

Moral Circle Expansion paper

Consciousness Eliminativism paper

COVID-19 paper

Moral Consideration of Artificial Entities literature review

Perspective Taking experiment

Priority research projects

Cultured meat moral messaging experiment

Dietary asks and cognitive dissonance RCT

Environmentalism case study

Humane myth persistence attribution study

Reform messaging and counter-messaging effects study

Support for bans on producing vs. consuming meat survey

Varied victim experiences messaging RCT

Voter turnout literature review

Social movement case studies

Other case studies

Literature reviews

Experimental studies

Polls and surveys

Expert interviews

Other

Foundational questions for effective animal advocacy

The existing evidence on most of these topics is summarized in our Summary of Evidence for Foundational Questions for Effective Animal Advocacy. We prioritize research projects, in part, based on to what extent they will inform these debates.

In-progress research projects

Animals, Food, and Technology survey

This project collects data on attitudes towards animal farming and animal product alternatives in the US. Since our 2017 survey, we have collected data in 2019 and 2020 and are in the process of publishing an analysis and discussion of the results. The raw survey data and preregistration for 2019 are available in this OSF directory. Our paper is under review at a journal.

Moral Circle Expansion paper

This project seeks to explicate and evidence the project of moral circle expansion from a philosophical perspective, drawing on evidence from history and social science. What does it mean to expand humanity’s moral circle? What crucial considerations affect the prioritization of moral circle expansion? Our paper has been accepted by a journal and will hopefully be published in 2021.

Consciousness Eliminativism paper

We present a novel argument for and formulation of consciousness eliminativism, which can help us understand nonhuman minds.

COVID-19 paper

We discuss COVID-19 as a compelling example of global catastrophic risks (GCRs). We argue that there is strong evidence that factory farming contributes to spark and spread risks of zoonotic disease outbreaks. COVID-19 gives us yet another reason to oppose factory farming, as well as reason to transition to a more risk-conscious, GCR-focused society.

Moral Consideration of Artificial Entities literature review

We review scholarly discussions of the moral consideration of artificial entities across philosophy, ethics, law, policy, computer science, and social science.

Perspective Taking experiment

Taking the perspective of another sentient being is an important social phenomenon. In this study, we explore the relationship between perspective taking, moral consideration, and the moral circle. How does the effect of perspective taking on moral consideration change if beings are more psychologically distant?

Predictors of the Moral Inclusion of Artificial Entities survey

This project seeks to build knowledge about how humans include artificial entities in their moral circle. We collect and analyze survey data to illustrate the psychological predictors of the moral inclusion of artificial entities. What aspects of human psychology predict inclusion? Are certain dimensions of moral inclusion more meaningful than others?

Features of Artificial Entities and Moral Consideration experiment

Artificial entities can be designed with a range of features, such as a humanlike appearance, language abilities, or emotional expression. This study uses conjoint analysis to estimate the effects of a range of features on the moral consideration of artificial entities?

Priority research projects

Cultured meat moral messaging experiment

How does telling people that cultured meat is morally driven vs. not morally driven affect its favorability? How does knowledge of a moral opposition to it affect this?

Dietary asks and cognitive dissonance RCT

How strong of a “denial of mind” effect do eggs, milk, and cheese or other derivative products have compared to meat? This study may be accompanied by other explorations of the degree to which vegetarianism captures the speciesism-mitigation value of veganism.

Environmentalism case study

Animal Charity Evaluators conducted a partial case study of the environmentalist movement looking at the book Silent Spring, the event Earth Day, and some recycling campaigns. The results were useful, such as the potential impact of well-timed book launches and large public events. Given environmentalism’s significantly shared interests with farmed animal advocacy and the significant overlap between the two communities, we expect more research could be fruitful. Due to the scope of environmentalism, this project would probably focus on a particular relevant submovement, such as climate change, anti-pollution, or wildlife preservation.

Humane myth persistence attribution study

Around half of people think farmed animals are treated well. Is this because of a knowledge deficit, or denial/cognitive dissonance? (E.g. have they not seen investigations, or do they dismiss investigation coverage as being of bad apples?)

Reform messaging and counter-messaging effects study

How do reform campaign messaging and industry counter-messaging (e.g. “Chicken Check-In,” humanewashing labels) affect consumer understanding of animal farming, attitudes towards animal farming, and/or willingness to pay or use alternatives?

Support for bans on producing vs. consuming meat survey

How does support for a ban on meat vary between the framings of a ban on production/selling vs. a ban on consumption/purchasing? They theoretically have the same end, but their efficacy in reaching that end may vary.

Varied victim experiences messaging RCT

How does discomfort with, concern about, or opposition to egg farming compare across external framings of battery cage conditions, free range conditions, pasture conditions, and internal framings of hen health conditions with and without mention of external conditions? This study aims to test which animal welfare harms are most compelling.

Voter turnout literature review

There have been few if any formal literature reviews done in the effective animal advocacy community, which attempt to aggregate existing evidence in a different advocacy field and draw any conclusions possible for helping animals in particular. The literature on increasing voter turnout, such as through mail and door-to-door canvassing, is particularly robust, so we plan to work on this as an exploration of the value of literature reviews.

Note: The following projects are described in less detail, but are not necessarily lower priority

Social movement case studies

We are also interested in the aggregation and analysis of existing case studies, given there have now been several published.

Other case studies

Literature reviews

Experimental studies

Polls and surveys

Expert interviews

Other


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