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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Of meat, morals, and masculinity : factors underlying the consumption of non-human animals, and inferences about another’s character Ruby, Matthew Byron


Previous psychological research on vegetarianism has focused primarily on participants' health and weight concerns, and the process by which people adopt a vegetarian diet. The present studies broaden this research by exploring the differences in the way omnivores and vegetarians perceive animals and people whose diets do or do not include meat. In Study 1, participants reported their willingness to eat a series of animal- and vegetable-sourced foods, as well as their perceptions of the animals’ qualities. In Study 2, participants reported their impressions of a hypothetical student’s character and personality, basing their inferences on a short profile that indicated the student’s dietary choices as either omnivorous or vegetarian. Our findings in Study 1 suggest that the decision to eat or not eat animals is chiefly a function of disgust at the thought of eating them and how often one has seen them for sale in a store, but also affected by such diverse factors as perceptions of their intelligence, capacity for pain and suffering, appearance, and similarity to humans. In Study 2, both omnivores and vegetarians rated the vegetarian student targets as more virtuous and ethical than the omnivorous student targets.

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