Five Questions That Reveal How Much You Care About Animals

This new 5-item scale measures attitudes toward the use of animals.

Posted Dec 18, 2014

Inspired by Gosling’s short scales, my colleagues and I recently developed a brief (10 item) and a very brief (5 item) version of a widely used measure of individual differences in beliefs about the use of animals by humans. I will explain how the scales were developed below…but first, go ahead and take five question version now.

The Five Item Animal Attitude Scale

Instructions: Indicate the extent to which you agree or disagree with each statement.

Strongly Agree = SA Agree = A Undecided = U Disagree = D Strongly Disagree = SD

1. It is morally wrong to hunt wild animals just for sport.

      SA       A       U       D       SD

2. I do not think that there is anything wrong with using animals in medical research.

      SA       A       U       D       SD

3. I think it is perfectly acceptable for cattle and hogs to be raised for human consumption.

      SA       A       U       D       SD

4. The slaughter of whales and dolphins should be immediately stopped even it means some people will be put out of work.

      SA       A       U       D       SD

5. I sometimes get upset when I see wild animals in cages at zoos.

      SA       A       U       D       SD


Here’s how to calculate your score:

For items 1, 4, and 5, give yourself the following points for each item: SA = 5 points, A = 4 points, U = 3 points, D = 2 points, and SD = 1 point.

Items 2 and 3 are “reverse worded.” So for these items, SA = 1 point, A = 2 points, U = 3 points, D = 4 points, and SD = 5 points.

Now add up your points for the five questions.

Interpreting Your Animal Attitude Scale–5 Score

You might want to compare your score to the scores of the sample we used to calibrate the scale.

Below 16 – You are less concerned about animal welfare issues than most people. (You are in the 25th percentile). If you score is below 12, you fall into the 10th percentile which means you are much less concerned about the treatment of animals than the average person.

Between 16 and 21— You are about average in your beliefs about the use of animals by humans -- 50% of people fall into this range.

Above 21 – You are more concerned about the treatment of animals than most people (in the 75th percentile). If you scored 25, you are in the 90th percentile and are extremely concerned about animal welfare.

The Backstory

• the psychological impact of witnessing the killing of animals

• how beliefs about animals affect what we eat

empathy in animal lovers

• attitudes of Chinese university students, German children, and Australian animal protectionists

• the impact of political attitudes on concern for animal welfare

• how the emotion of disgust motivates animal activism.

The full Animal Attitude Scale has 20 items. While this does not seem excessively long, I have regularly been contacted by researchers searching for a shorter measure of beliefs about animal welfare to use in situations when their subjects have limited time or need to complete several questionnaires in one setting. For example, an investigator might want to measure the relationship between religiosity and concern for animals by giving two scales to the same subjects. Serendipity struck when I met Stephanie Grayson at the 2012 meeting of the International Society for Anthrozoology. As part of her doctoral dissertation, Stephanie gave the Animal Attitude Scale to 400 American adults. (You can see her ISAZ talk here). I was impressed with the size and diversity of her sample, and I realized that we could use her research to generate short forms of the scale. Stephanie and I ran the idea by short-scale guru Sam Gosling who was also at the meeting. He thought it might work and encouraged us to develop brief forms of the scale using Stephanie’s data.

With the help of David McCord, an expert in test development, we systematically constructed a five and a ten-item version of the Animal Attitude Scale using statements from the original scale. Statistics geeks will be interested in knowing that both versions are highly correlated with the 20 item scale (r’s > .95) and have good internal reliability (alphas greater than .80). As is the case with

Average scores of men, women, meat-eaters, and vegetarians.

The details of the scale construction methods including information about the sample, the arcane details of our factor analysis, and the relevant psychometrics of both versions of the scale can be found in this article which will soon appear in the journal Anthrozoos.

Addendum: As my friend Harry Greene, author of the wonderful book Tracks and Shadows: Field Biology as Art, suggested to me, the scale assesses how people feel about the use of animals by humans, not how much you love your pets or are committed to, say, the spay and neuter movement.

For Researchers and Teachers

Researchers: When time is not an issue, we recommend using the original version of the scale. But if you need a quick and easy instrument to assess concern for animals, the five and the ten-item versions of the scale have excellent psychometric properties. These short forms are particularly useful when research participants are asked to complete several questionnaires in one sitting. (We would appreciate hearing about your results using the scales and receiving copies of any foreign-language translations.)

Teachers: I have found that students enjoy taking the Animal Attitudes Scale, and it can be a good way to facilitate discussions about animal ethics. A student-friendly version of the full scale along with a classroom exercise on the use of animals in science is located here.


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

Herzog, H., Grayson, S., & McCord, D. (in press). Brief measures of the Animal Attitude Scale. Anthrozoos.

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Hal Herzog is professor of psychology at Western Carolina University and the author of Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard To Think Straight About Animals.

Follow me on Twitter @herzoghal.

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