Who objects to painful tests on animals?

By Razib Khan | July 13, 2012 7:39 pm

In the year 2008 1,400 people were asked this question in the GSS:

Scientists should be allowed to do research that causes pain and injury to animals like dogs and chimpanzees if it produces new information about human health problems. (Do you strongly agree, agree, disagree, or strongly disagree?)

(variable ANSCITST)

I was curious because I ran into some stuff on pro-life sites today about how animal rights activist don’t oppose abortion, and how hypocritical that is. So naturally I was curious about how attitudes varied on that issue.

Allow animal testing which might case pain
Strongly agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree
Yes to abortion on demand 8 31 39 22
No to abortion on demand 7 32 39 23

What the results above show is that there is almost no difference in attitudes toward animal research when you vary attitudes toward abortion on demand. In other words, 22 percent of pro-choice people oppose such research strongly, while 23 percent of pro-life people do. How does this vary by demographic?

Strongly agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree
Male 8 44 34 14
Female 4 23 42 31
Liberal 6 34 38 22
Moderate 5 32 38 25
Conservative 7 35 38 20
White 6 31 39 24
Black 7 41 36 16
No College Degree 6 32 38 24
College Degree 7 36 38 19
Stupid (WORDSUM 0-4) 8 33 38 22
Average (WORDSUM 5-8) 6 34 36 25
Smart (WORDSUM 9-10) 13 29 41 16
Age 18-35 4 34 40 22
Age 36-65 7 32 37 24
Age 66 and up 8 33 39 20
Protestant 6 35 39 20
Catholic 7 32 38 24
Jewish 12 29 36 23
No Religion 7 31 36 26
Atheist & agnostic 9 36 33 21
Theist 6 33 38 23
Bible Word of God 5 36 39 20
Bible Inspired Word 5 32 39 24
Bible Book of Fables 10 32 35 22

MORE ABOUT: Animal Rights
  • http://washparkprophet.blogspot.com ohwilleke

    In other words, animal rights and abortion rights are orthogonal components of the social issue ideology map. I wonder how accurately you could predict outcomes on other issues as a linear combination of these two components.

  • Matunos

    Even if unborn human fetuses and fully formed non-human animals were morally equivalent, it wouldn’t be a case of hypocrisy.

  • DK

    how animal rights activist don’t oppose abortion, and how hypocritical that is

    I see nothing hypocritical about it. Abortion activists (that’s the proper term actually – even if they hate it) don’t consider human embryos sentient and they usually insist that early embryos don’t feel pain any more than ants or something like that. At the same time, animal rights activists consider some animals nearly as sentient as humans.

    The veracity of their beliefs can very well be questioned but that does not make them hypocrites.

  • AG

    So when come to interest of non-human species, political or religious difference does not matter much.

  • Tom Bri

    Looking at all ‘agree’ the only strong differences seem to be male/female and Black/White. Interesting that political beliefs don’t predict much of anything here. Even religious beliefs don’t predict much, with only a small uptick for non-believers. Shows how little intuition can be trusted. Thanks Razib.

  • Hedonic Treader

    I find the question utterly underdefined. How much pain, to how many animals, for what kind of information, on which health issues, affecting how many people?

  • http://www.jerseyreport.com Mercy Vetsel

    This is very interesting and it’s good to see people doing their own analyses of GSS data. With such a great dataset freely available to everyone on the web it’s funny how often people accept easily disproved statements about the population.

    Still, this doesn’t quite dispute the claims regarding “animal rights activists”. It’s possible that there is a substantial difference between actual activists and those who merely disagree with animal research.


  • http://www.twitter.com/theogonia Shashi

    Very interesting. Not any significant differences between any group except male & female. Any guesses or attempts to explain this? Differences in level of empathy? Testosterone?

  • http://www.facebook.com/doclonglegs Andrew Selvarasa

    Wow, I’m surprised. I’m a vegan animal rights activist, and I’m also pro-life. Most of the vegans I know are like myself. Interesting.

  • http://www.twitter.com/theogonia Shashi

    #8 Yes, that’s usually the case with most people. We only tend to know and associate with people who think/act like us and then we continue to think that our bubble is representative of some wider community.

  • Divalent

    It seems to me you addressed the wrong question with the data you presented. The data you show explores attitudes towards animal experimentation as a function of support for or against abortion on demand. But the question you said you were going to address was additude towards abortion as a function of support for animal experimentation. (Specifically, the question of whether people opposed to animal experimentation are less likely to oppose abortion.)

    Or maybe I’m just missing it. (been a long day)

  • http://www.facebook.com/doclonglegs Andrew Selvarasa

    #9 – Yes, you’re right, we’re a self-selected group.

  • Isabel

    “Looking at all ‘agree’ the only strong differences seem to be male/female and Black/White”

    But smart folks and Jews seem to ‘strongly agree’ far more often than other groups.

  • http://lablemming.blogspot.com/ Lab Lemming

    Can you break down by diet?

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    just to be clear, i described other people as saying this was hypocritical. didn’t publish a few comments ragging on my opinion as to how this was a hypocritical position. read closer to have your comments published 😉

    busy on daddy-duty. if you guys are curious why don’t you look in the GSS???

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    often baby-duty for a bit. i see no one has done any of their own GSS analysis???

  • http://www.facebook.com/doclonglegs Andrew Selvarasa

    We’re lazy. 😛


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com


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