Student Attitudes Towards Animals Before or After Taking an HAS Course: Some Preliminary Results

ASI works to promote human-animal studies by supporting the development of courses and degree programs in colleges and universities worldwide. By raising students’ awareness of human-animal relationships we aim to fundamentally change the way animals are viewed and ultimately treated. We’re pleased to announce that we have evidence that our efforts are working.

In order to assess the extent to which completion of a human-animal studies course affected attitudes toward animals we surveyed students from eight human-animal studies classes at six universities in the U.S. (University of Oregon, Cottey College, Appalachian State University, California Polytechnic Pomona, University of Alaska Southeast, and Redlands University) and two universities in Europe (University College Dublin and University of Innsbruck).

Since the fall of 2016, 108 students completed the Animal Attitude Scale1, a 20-item questionnaire designed to measure pro-animal welfare attitudes. Students rated each of 20 statements on a five-point scale, indicating the extent to which they agreed with each statement regarding attitudes toward animals. Items are scored such that higher scores indicate more favorable attitudes toward animals, with a total maximum score of 100.

Students completed the AAS prior to and immediately following each course. Analysis of the survey data showed there was a statistically significant increase in AAS scores. Prior to taking the HAS course, students’ average score on the AAS was 78.18 and following completion of the HAS course the average score rose to 82.45*. These results suggest that human-animal studies classes positively affect students’ attitudes toward animals. In other words, students who complete such classes report more pro-animal welfare attitudes after completing the class than prior to it.

* t(107)=-4.740, p = .000

References:

  1. Herzog Jr, H. A., Betchart, N. S., & Pittman, R. B. (1991). Gender, sex role orientation, and attitudes toward animals. Anthrozoös, 4(3), 184-191.

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