The Racial Aspect of Animal Rights
by spark7 on February 17, 2014 - 6:22pm
Researchers Gordon Hodson and Kimberly Costello conducted an experiment to look at how humans see themselves in regard to non-human animals and how this is related to the development of racial prejudice, particularly in children. What they were hoping to achieve from this experiment was to reduce or stop dehumanization all together among children. These individuals were curious as to whether or not the gap between animals and humans was linked to discrimination and prejudice toward other groups of humans, such as minority groups. They also wanted to know how the parents’ role in raising their child resulted in prejudice formation. Based on experiments involving white children and their parents, evidence shows a strong correlation between the dehumanization of animals and the formation of a racial prejudice. This shows that even children separate humans into different classes based on race. They believe they are superior to animals, but to other races as well. Also, in cases where parents demonstrated a feeling of superiority over animals, this was mimicked in their children, thus leading to the ostracizing of other races from a white-dominant perspective (Hodson & Costello, 2012). Why is all of this important? This research just further shows the importance of viewing animals as equal and putting an end to the dehumanization. By bringing animals up to the level that humans are viewed at, prejudice is decreased and people begin to reflect on the moral aspects of their viewpoints. How we treat animals is a mirror reflection of how we treat other humans and right now, animals aren’t being held with very high concern. This signals that it is time for change.
The authors take special note of the implications of their reasoning. They note that a feeling of superiority over animals fuels discrimination and that if this trend continues, it will only result in the further discrimination of minority groups. There are some positive implications as well, which pave the way for the reduction of dehumanization. By raising animals to the same level as humans are seen at, dehumanization is stopped completely. This reworking of viewpoints can be an effective tool in reducing discrimination, especially if children are taught to view animals as equal and deserving of respect at a young age. One thing that wasn’t done very well in this article was addressing differing points of view. The researchers never mentioned how their results could be seen from different populations. Due to the discriminatory aspect of the research, it was held from a white point of view. However, other populations can hold discriminatory feelings as well, and I would have liked to see this addressed. Overall, I thought this article was thought provoking, but could have been filled out better.
Hodson, G., & Costello, K. (2012, December 15). The human cost of devaluing animals. New
Scientist, 216(2895), 34-35.