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Type: Thesis
Title: Friends, Food, or “Free Egg Machines”? A Qualitative Study of Chicken Owners' Perceptions of Chickens and Chicken Meat.
Author: Macauley, Luke Peter James
Issue Date: 2018
School/Discipline: School of Psychology
Abstract: How people who keep household chickens, and also eat chicken meat, balance perceptions of chickens as companion animals and as meat products is unknown. This is because human-animal bonds research has neglected inquiry into relationships with domestic chickens, despite increasing rates of urban chicken ownership in Australia. People may form strong attachments to their companion animals. Conversely, people tend to enjoy eating animal meat while preferring not to think about the slaughter of meat animals. This phenomenon is called the Meat Paradox, and often produces cognitive dissonance, which people may resolve by morally disengaging from meat animals and believing that meat animals are less capable of suffering. How people view chickens is unclear as they have the potential to be both companion animals and meat products. The present study aimed to fill this gap in the research by interviewing participants (N = 10) who kept household chickens and ate chicken meat about their attitudes and behaviours regarding chickens. Thematic analysis was used to generate five themes from the data, which were Chickens are pets, Chickens are meat products, Chickens are utilities, Chickens have varying levels of individuality, and Inconsistencies and changes in perceptions. Themes were overlapping, dynamic, and contradictory. The results suggest that people can consciously attempt to control processes of empathising for, or disengaging from, animals, depending on animals’ perceived status as companions or meat products. These findings have implications for further research into cognitive dissonance, empathy, and objectification in bonds with animals, and meat attitudes.
Dissertation Note: Thesis (B.PsychSc(Hons)) -- University of Adelaide, School of Psychology, 2018
Keywords: Honours; Psychology
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