Last updated September 16, 2019.
Table of Contents
The existing evidence on most of these topics is summarized in our Summary of Evidence for Foundational Questions for Effective Animal Advocacy.
- Confrontation vs. nonconfrontation
- Consistent vs. varying messaging
- Controversial publicity stunts vs. other tactics
- Individual vs. institutional interventions and messaging
- Influencer vs. mass outreach
- Multi-issue vs. animal focus
- Left-wing vs. nonpartisan focus
- Momentum vs. complacency from welfare reforms
- Reducetarianism vs. veganism
- Social change vs. food technology
- Animal protection vs. environmental vs. human health messaging
- Farmed animal vs. wild animals vs. general antispeciesism focus
- Long-term vs. short-term focus
- Social movements vs. randomized controlled trials vs. intuition/speculation/anecdotes vs. external findings evidence
- Corporate vs. government policy change
- Rights/autonomy vs. welfare/suffering messaging
- Moral licensing vs. moral consistency
- Few large vs. many small advocacy events
In-progress research projects
Completed research projects can be found in our Research Publications and Blog.
Technology adoption case studies
Some technologies might not have been developed or adopted to the full extent possible because of ethical controversy, such as GMOs and nuclear energy (two case studies we have completed). Given that there could be very promising animal-free food technologies in the next few years, we will examine past examples of technologies that were not fully adopted to see how we can mitigate that risk in our situation. Our next study examines biofuels.
Moral expansiveness literature review
What findings have already been published about the moral circle and related constructs in psychology and sociology? This research is foundational to our work and we consider it due diligence to review and share it with our audience.
Health behavior interventions literature review
What does existing research on interventions to change people’s health-related behavior (such as smoking, healthy eating, and safe sex) suggest for efforts to reduce animal product consumption?
Effects of animal-free food tech exposure on animal farming attitudes RCT
How does hearing about animal-free food tech affect opposition to animal/factory farming?
Higher priority research projects
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.
Environmentalism case study
Animal Charity Evaluators conducted a partial case study of the environmentalist movement looking at Silent Spring, 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.
Cell-based meat moral messaging RCT
How does telling people that cell-based 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.
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.
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.
Lower priority research projects
This list is not exhaustive and may not contain all items on our internal research brainstorming document.
Social movement case studies
- Climate change
- Wildlife preservation
- Rights of the mentally disabled
- Anti-prison and prison reform
- Animals (lab)
- Animals (entertainment)
- Animals (food)
- US welfare reforms
- EU welfare reforms
- History of vegetarianism
- Animals (shelters)
- Healthy eating
- Anti-substance abuse
- Consumer environmentalism interventions
- Healthy eating
Randomized controlled trials
- Does discussing future animal-free food technology lead to complacency, e.g. “I don’t need to make changes now because it’ll be easier later,” or momentum, e.g. “I want to be on the right side of history”?
- How does discussing the concept of a moral circle affect someone’s moral circle?
- How does discussing speciesism affect someone’s speciesism?
- How does compassion for other humans correlate with and relate to compassion for nonhumans?
Polls and surveys
- Do people have a coherent, consistent moral circle?
- Views of animal sentience, moral worth of insects, wild animals, digital sentience, etc.
- Support for transition towards animal-free foods
- Do people think they purchase factory farmed or “humane” animal products?
- Artificial intelligence values survey
- What values would people load into an artificial intelligence?
- What moral circle would people load into an artificial intelligence?
- Happiness vs. suffering (moderate vs. extreme, emotional vs. physical)
- Net happiness vs. other outcomes (e.g. autonomy, beauty)
- Philosophers/neuroscientists who focus on sentience
- Farmed animal treatment specialists
- Psychologists studying relevant topics (e.g. moral licensing, collapse of compassion)
- Advocates with expertise on specific topics (e.g. corporate outreach, online ads)
- Cost analysis of lives-worth-living animal farming
- Summary of health arguments for/against animal farming
- Summary of environmental arguments for/against animal farming
- How to utilize grazable non-arable land and how much it matters to our food system
- Technologies that have expanded the moral circle
- What led to the tech developing more quickly
- What led to the tech developing at all
- Welfare of various animal farm populations and practices
- Welfare of various wild animal populations
- Cultural and social features that correlate with or cause wider moral circles
- Demographics that lead moral circle expansion
- Third-party evaluation of legal personhood arguments used in court