The 2016 EAA Research Symposium was organized and co-sponsored by Animal Charity Evaluators, the Princeton University Center for Human Values, and the Princeton Animal Welfare Society. The event was held on November 12th and 13th, 2016 at Princeton University. Researchers, professors and graduate students across various disciplines who are conducting or planning work which has practical application to the animal advocacy movement presented on these projects, with particular emphasis on the social sciences. Presentations revealed cutting edge research as well as avenues for further research, highlighting areas of greatest research need. The event also provided an overview of effective altruism as it applies to animal advocacy, in addition to providing information on the state of the advocacy movement.
Full Professor of Psychology, Université du Québec à Montréal
Catherine E. Amiot is currently a Full Professor of Psychology at the Université du Québec à Montréal. She completed her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Québécois (UQAM, MGill) and Canadian universities (University of Ottawa) before conducting postdoctoral research at the University of Queensland, Australia. Her research is in the field of social psychology, and more specifically in the areas of intergroup relations and self and identity processes.
Executive Director, Animal Charity Evaluators
Jon has held diverse leadership positions in nonprofit animal advocacy over the past decade, including as Director at a shelter and wildlife rehabilitation center, as a humane investigator, as an IACUC member, and as a Founder of a farmed animal advocacy charity. Since taking his current position as Executive Director at Animal Charity Evaluators, Jon has grown the organization from a staff of one to a dedicated team of 11 employees. He has been involved with four comprehensive rounds of evaluation which have resulted in influencing over $2.5 million in donations to ACE recommended charities. Jon has also led initiatives at ACE beyond charity evaluations, including the promotion of effective altruism for animals as well as projects to improve the work of all animal charities through the provision of advice and resources.
Advocacy Research Program Officer, Animal Charity Evaluators
Greg Boese is the Advocacy Program Officer at Animal Charity Evaluators, where he is responsible for overseeing the Animal Advocacy Research Fund. He holds an M.A. in Social and Personality Psychology, and is currently completing a Ph.D. in Experimental Social Psychology at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada.
Assistant Professor, Department of Communication and Media Studies, Fordham University
Garrett Broad is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University. His research and activism explores how storytelling and communication technology shape contemporary communities and networked movements for social change. His published work has covered topics related to community organizing, environmental justice, and animal rights, and he is the author of the book “More Than Just Food: Food Justice and Community Change.”
Statistical Analyst, Mercy For Animals
Krystal Caldwell is the statistical analyst for Mercy For Animals where she is responsible for research, data analysis, and testing to ensure that their programs and activities are as effective as possible. Mercy For Animals is an international non-profit dedicated to preventing cruelty to farmed animals and promoting compassionate food choices and policies.
Assistant Professor/Faculty Fellow of Environmental Studies and Animal Studies, New York University
Nicolas is Assistant Professor/Faculty Fellow of Environmental Studies and Animal Studies at New York University. He teaches for the Animal Studies Initiative and advises animal studies minors. He earned a PhD in Philosophy from Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne in 2014, after completing undergraduate and graduate education in philosophy and legal history at Ecole Normale Supérieure and Université Panthéon-Sorbonne. Nicolas’ research focuses on animal ethics, moral status, and psychology.
Associate Research Scientist, The Motivation Science Center at Columbia University
Becca recently completed a Killiam Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in the Animal Welfare Program at The University of British Columbia where she was fortunate to fulfill her life-long dream of studying fish. Throughout her career Becca has focused on uncovering fundamental patterns of motivation and well-being across species, working with walruses, chimpanzees, salmon, rats, humans, mice, and zebrafish to name few. She is now a Research Scientist at the Motivation Science Center at Columbia University.
Ling-Ann Hsiung Memorial Fellow; International Press Coordinator, Direct Action Everywhere (DxE)
Zach Groff is the Ling-Ann Hsiung Memorial Fellow and International Press Coordinator for the grassroots animal liberation network Direct Action Everywhere (DxE). As part of his work with DxE, Zach has secured press hits in the New York Times, Washington Post, and CNN. Zach leads DxE’s metrics team, which monitors and evaluates progress and consults with social scientists on social movement strategy. Zach is also a Research Analyst for Yale economist Dean Karlan at Innovations for Poverty Action.
European Specialist in Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law
Kathrin Herrmann is a veterinarian specializing in Animal Welfare Science, Ethics & Law while working at the Animals in Science Inspectorate in Berlin. She is finishing her Ph.D. at Dahlem Research School for Biomedical Sciences of Free University Berlin. She is a diplomate of the European College of Animal Welfare and Behavioural Medicine, a founding member of Minding Animals Germany, and is currently editing a book on the ethics of animal experimentation.
Professor of Psychology, Western Carolina University
Hal Herzog has been investigating aspects of human-animal interactions for over 30 years. These have included studies of the psychology of animal activists, the moral worlds of cockfighters, and public attitudes toward the treatment of animals. He is the author of the book Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard to Think Straight About Animals, and in 2013 he was given the Distinguished Scholar Award of the International Society for Anthrozoology.
Senior Scientist, The Good Food Institute
Christie Lagally is a Senior Scientist for the Good Food Institute, a non-profit organization working with scientists, investors, and entrepreneurs to advance food innovation. As a mechanical engineer, Christie has worked on diverse projects, including space- and ground-based telescopes, natural gas engines, roller coasters, and commercial aircraft. She joined The Good Food Institute from Boeing, where she worked as a mechanical engineer and technical project manager on the 777 and 777X programs
Canada Research Chair in Animal Welfare, University of Guelph
Georgia Mason is a professor of animal welfare at the University of Guelph. She trained in ethology at Cambridge University, was then a member of Oxford University’s Animal Behaviour Research Group for 10 years, and then moved to Canada 12 years ago. Her work focuses on the objective assessment of animal well-being and the impacts of impoverished environments.
PhD candidate, Political Science, Stanford University
Bobbie is a PhD student in political science at Stanford University. He studies the behavior of political elites, intergroup co-operation, and vegetarianism using network methods, automated text analysis, and experiments.
Co-founder and Executive Director, Vegan Outreach
Jack Norris is a registered dietitian and the co-founder and executive director of Vegan Outreach. Vegan Outreach is an animal protection organization that promotes a vegan lifestyle. In 2005, Jack was elected to the Animal Rights Hall of Fame.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Pennsylvania
Dr. Matthew Ruby is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. His main research program explores the domains of morality, decision making, and cognitive dissonance in diverse cultural contexts, through the lens of a central domain of life– food. In particular, he focuses how people decide which (animal) foods are acceptable to eat and which are not, and how people handle the tension that can arise between loving animals and loving meat.
VP for Regulatory Testing, PETA; Director of the PETA International Science Consortium Ltd
Jessica Sandler is PETA’s Vice President for Regulatory Testing and the Director of the PETA International Science Consortium. She leads a team of scientists, policy advisors, and attorneys that has changed the way corporations and regulatory agencies conduct testing worldwide, sparing tens of millions of animals from painful and lethal chemical tests, and helped revolutionize the science of chemical toxicity testing. Before officially joining PETA in 1998, Jessica worked for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and later headed the safety and health office of the U.S. Geological Survey. She holds a master’s in environmental health sciences from The Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University.
Doctoral candidate, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University
Shane Schweitzer is a doctoral candidate at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, in the department of Management and Organizations. He studies how we perceive minds in people, animals, and objects, specifically focusing on how people attribute and deny mental states to other entities and the ethical consequences of doing so.
Research Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Associate Director of the Parr Center for Ethics, UNC Chapel Hill
Jeff is Research Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Associate Director of the Parr Center for Ethics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He previously held positions in Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health and Animal Studies and Environmental Studies at New York University, where he received his Ph.D. in Philosophy in 2011. His current research and teaching focuses on topics in moral, social, and political philosophy. He is also Secretary on the Board of Directors at Animal Charity Evaluators, Treasurer on the Board of Directors at Minding Animals International, and Executive Committee Member at the Animals & Society Institute.
Director, Humane League Labs
Harish Sethu is the Director of Humane League Labs, the research arm of The Humane League. He obtained his Ph.D. in computer engineering from Lehigh University and currently teaches and conducts research at a large private university in the areas of web security and data science. Harish has more than 25 years of experience as a researcher and has co-authored more than 70 peer-reviewed publications in the research literature. He is also the author of the blog Counting Animals.
Visiting Fellow, Center for Neuroscience and Society
Adam Shriver earned a Ph.D. from the Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology (PNP) program at Washington University in St. Louis and is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Center for Neuroscience and Society. He is interested in the neuroscience of positive and negative emotions and particularly how this can inform our understanding of well-being. He has published several articles at the intersection of philosophy and the cognitive sciences.
Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, renowned philosopher and author
Professor Peter Singer is the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics in the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. He is also a Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne in the Center for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics. He is one of the most well known philosophers in the world, specializing on the topics of applied ethics, utilitarianism, animal rights, and effective altruism. He is also the author of the book “Animal Liberation,”—a groundbreaking piece of literature often discussed as laying the foundation for the animal rights movement. He has been an avid advocate for ending animal cruelty, and in 1980, he co-founded Animals Australia, an animal protection organization aiming to expose animal cruelty in places like trade canals and factory farms. Singer also co-founded The Life You Can Save, “a nonprofit devoted to spreading my ideas about why we should be doing much more to improve the lives of people living in extreme poverty.” He was appointed a “Companion of the Order of Australia,” in 2012 for his commitment to bioethics and to expanding communications about animal welfare and the battle towards ending global poverty.
Director of Research, Animal Charity Evaluators
Allison Smith is the Director of Research at Animal Charity Evaluators. At ACE, she reviews the evidence related to the impact of various animal advocacy tactics and leads ACE’s charity evaluation and recommendation process. She has also advised many animal advocacy groups in the US and abroad about ways to evaluate their own programs.
Master’s candidate, Forensic Psychology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Sneha Suresh is pursuing a MA in Forensic Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She graduated with a BSc degree in Forensic Psychology from the University of Portsmouth. Sneha researched the effectiveness of vegan/vegetarian YouTube videos as her undergraduate research dissertation under the supervision of Dr. Diana S Fleischman.
Visiting Assistant Professor, Economics, Stanford University
Eva Vivalt is an Assistant Professor in Economics at the Australian National University and the founder of AidGrade. She obtained her PhD from Berkeley and has previously worked in the World Bank’s Development Economics Research Group and the UN Development Program. Apart from her work in development economics, where her research focuses on impact evaluations and on improving evidence-based policy decisions, she also does research on a range of topics related to animal advocacy.
Programme Director, Jeremy Coller Foundation
Rosie Wardle is Programme Director at the Jeremy Coller Foundation, a strategic grant-making organization based in London. In this role, Rosie recently launched the Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return (FAIRR) Initiative. Rosie also acts as an adviser for Coller’s investments in the food technology space. Currently working towards a PhD in Linguistics and the discourse of animal production, Rosie holds a BA and MA from the University of Oxford, and an MA from the Courtauld Instititute.
Philosophy student, Princeton University
Kevin Wong is a senior in the Philosophy Department at Princeton University, where he is also pursuing a certificate in the University Centre for Human Values. Kevin is a Davis Scholar and an alumnus of the Pearson United World College of the Pacific. Outside the classroom, he is a leader of The Prison Electives Project, a program that develops and delivers humanities courses in New Jersey’s state prisons. Kevin’s thesis, supervised by Peter Singer, explores the prospect of animal commensurability and its relevance to effective altruism. Kevin’s work has been featured in several newspapers and journals including the Huffington Post and USA Today. He is also a member of the Atlantic’s inaugural undergraduate fellowship.
Jon Bockman • Executive Director of Animal Charity Evaluators
Symposium introduction and overview
Peter Singer • Philosopher
Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics in the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University; Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne; Co-founder of The Life You Can Save; Renowned philosopher and author
State of the Movement
Jon Bockman • Executive Director of Animal Charity Evaluators
Research is underutilized in animal advocacy. Reducing and eliminating the largest amount of suffering requires careful consideration of strategy, and research enables organizations working on behalf of animals to accomplish the greatest possible good. Strong data is vital in guiding our decisions on where to spend our time and money, and we should strive to acquire a strong understanding of effective strategies. While research can and should direct our focus, it is also important to spend effort in other areas as well.
The Effects of ‘Eliminate’ Versus ‘Reduce’ Messaging Strategies on Reducing Individual Meat Consumption
Bobbie Macdonald • PhD candidate, Political Science, Stanford University
In this study, we conduct a three-wave survey experiment to examine the effects of two distinct diet change appeals: a ‘reducetarian’ appeal that encourages individuals to reduce their meat consumption but not necessarily eliminate it entirely, and a ‘vegetarian’ appeal that encourages individuals to completely give up eating meat. We examine the effects of these two messaging strategies on self-reported meat consumption in a one month follow-up survey, comparing both messages against a control message. The results have implications for how animal advocates should frame pro-veg messaging to promote the greatest reductions in meat consumption and the most positive attitude change toward farmed animals.
Cruelty on screen: Do online videos of farmed animal cruelty change people’s diets and attitudes?
Krystal Caldwell • Statistical Analyst, Mercy For Animals
A discussion of the methods, results, and implications of Mercy For Animals’ online advertising campaign study.
Neuroscience and our understanding of sentience in nonhuman animals
Adam Shriver • Visiting Fellow, Center for Neuroscience and Society
This talk focuses on what neuroscience can tell us about the capacity for sentience in other species and what this implies for animal advocacy. Through a discussion of current research such as comparing brain regions across humans and non-humans, the speaker argues that, although neuroscience largely supports the assumptions of most animal activists that at least all vertebrates consciously feel pain, it also provides some reasons for caution.
Understanding fish and their needs
Becca Franks • Associate Research Scientist, The Motivation Science Center at Columbia University
This talk investigates why, despite being the most heavily used animal group, fish are rarely afforded the same protections as land animals. Drawing on recent research which reveals we have underestimated the cognition and conscious experience of fish, the speaker argues that a major source of this misconception is our relatively limited experience of fish, which affects how we display and house them. One opportunity for intervention is to ensure that our representations of fish accurately reflect what we now know about fish cognition and conscious experience.
Using mind perception and language to predict animal advocacy
Shane Schweitzer • Doctoral candidate, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University
Mind perception refers to the extent to which people believe other entities possess the two key components of mind: agency (the capacity to think and have intentions) and experience (the capacity to feel things like pain, pleasure, and emotions). This presentation describes the design and results of studies aimed at measuring mind perception via people’s written and spoken language; discusses the implications of these studies for animal advocacy; and highlights avenues for future research in this area.
Why animal activists should study Psychology
Hal Herzog • Professor of Psychology, Western Carolina University
The roots of the contemporary animal rights movement lie in the rigorous moral reasoning of utilitarianism and deontology. In the real world, however, the attitudes and behaviors humans exhibit toward other species often defy logic and are sometimes flagrantly inconsistent. I will discuss successful and unsuccessful animal protection campaigns in the context of psychological principles including cognitive dissonance and the social intuitionist model of moral judgment. I will argue that when it comes to motivating behavior change, effective animal activism incorporates both moral philosophy and an understanding of recent findings in the social sciences.
Why do captive animals perfect abnormal repetitive behaviours?
Georgia Mason • Canada Research Chair in Animal Welfare, University of Guelph
When intensively farmed pigs chew the bars of their crates, laboratory mice pluck out their fur, and tigers in zoos pace, what does this say about their welfare? Some claim that these activities are merely “anticipatory behaviours,” signs of excitement, or adaptive coping responses. I will critically examine such claims, and outline what these behaviours do, and do not, reveal about captive animal well-being.
Internal conflict about eating animals: Prevalence, dissonance reduction strategies, and implications for dietary behavior
Matthew Ruby • Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Pennsylvania
Recent work suggests that many omnivores face a “meat paradox,” wherein they enjoy meat, but are morally conflicted about eating animals, and that they often respond with various dissonance-reducing maneuvers, such as denying that animals used for food suffer, or by considering animals unworthy of moral concern. The present studies examine the prevalence of conflicted omnivores (people who eat animals, but have misgivings about doing so), how they manage this conflict, and how it relates to their sociopolitical attitudes, dietary behavior, and intentions for dietary change.
Solidarity with animals as a relevant dimension of social identification in the realm of human-animal relations
Catherine Amiot • Full Professor of Psychology, Université du Québec à Montréal
This talk describes 9 studies designed to investigate (a) whether the social psychological concept of solidarity can be extended to human-animal relations and (b) what effects solidarity with animals might have on our attitudes and behaviors towards them, particularly regarding scarce resource distribution between animals and humans, and willingness to engage in collective action on behalf of animals.
Advocacy Through Education
Animal Studies as an Interdisciplinary Field
Jeff Sebo • Research Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Associate Director of the Parr Center for Ethics, UNC Chapel Hill
Compared to other kinds of advocacy through education—such as leafleting and humane education—Animal Studies as an interdisciplinary field allows students to examine much more deeply the issues that animals face and what we can do to address them. A successful AS program walks students through a systematic study of the root causes of oppression of human and nonhuman animals, equipping them with a comprehensive vision of how they can help animals effectively. Engagement in shaping and promoting the field of animal studies has a higher marginal value now than in the future, since the potential to affect its direction at this early stage is significant. We should be wary of measurability bias when evaluating the effectiveness of investing in the field of animal studies (as with other areas of animal advocacy), as the results are often longer-term and more difficult to quantify with a high level of accuracy.
Paradoxes and problems in teaching Animal Studies
Nicolas Delon • Assistant Professor/Faculty Fellow of Environmental Studies and Animal Studies, New York University
Many instructors of animal studies, broadly construed, consider themselves animal activists, animal advocates or at least committed to improving our understanding and treatment of animals. But most instructors do – and I suggest ideally should – not consider themselves primarily as advocates. Yet part of our job description is to train students to think critically and convey new ideas, materials and arguments which in turn might open them to new perspectives and practical commitments. In this talk I examine the paradox of teaching animal studies and the different acceptable forms of advocacy that would not contradict our teaching duties, within and outside the classroom.
Is effective animal advocacy racist? A critical, methodological and strategic call to action
Garrett Broad • Assistant Professor, Department of Communication and Media Studies, Fordham University
Both the effective altruism and animal rights movements have been criticized for lacking racial and ethnic diversity within their memberships. This presentation details how a more inclusive approach to research and outreach could bolster the impact of effective animal advocates.
Funding Advocacy Research
Greg Boese • Advocacy Research Program Officer, Animal Charity Evaluators
It can be difficult to find the time and money necessary to conduct quality research. Greg will discuss ways to overcome these challenges by virtue of the Animal Advocacy Research Fund, an opportunity for academics and advocates to attain funding for research to help animals. He will cover what constitutes a successful application, and give examples of projects that the Research Fund would like to support.
Leaflets and animal advocacy
Jack Norris • Co-founder and Executive Director, Vegan Outreach
This talk presents the results of Vegan Outreach’s long-term Leafleting Effectiveness research program, and discusses its strengths and weaknesses. The program includes various studies designed to measure the effectiveness of leafleting on college campuses as a way to create new vegetarians and vegans, including field-research-based surveys and Pay-Per Read.
Effectiveness of various vegan/vegetarian youtube videos using an ethical approach style
Sneha Suresh • Master’s candidate, Forensic Psychology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
This talk describes the design and results of a study to measure the effectiveness of YouTube videos for vegan and vegetarian advocacy; highlights the usefulness of the results for more effective veg advocacy videos; and makes suggestions for future research in this area.
On meeting the challenges of research in farm animal advocacy
Harish Sethu • Director, Humane League Labs
This presentation will describe some of the key challenges of research in farm animal advocacy and their potential solutions in experiment methodology and data analysis to help overcome these challenges. In addition to detailing these challenges, the presentation will briefly explore the solution space which addresses them. The goal of this presentation is to convey to the audience an appreciation for the difficulty in reaching credible inferences through research and also the available paths to overcoming this difficulty.
How innovation in the food industry is poised to save billions of farm animals
Christie Lagally • Senior Scientist, The Good Food Institute
From the replacement of whale oil with kerosene and horse buggies with cars, the development of technologies has been an irreversible force of change for animals and our broader society. Today, the most disruptive strategy to replace billions of farm animals used in food production is to grow businesses and develop technologies in the food industry. An overview of the alternative production of animal products is covered including the current status of clean meat (i.e. meat grown in a culture without killing animals), and clean eggs and dairy (i.e. products grown by protein sequencing). This talk will also cover the targeted research efforts needed to develop and grow plant-based meat. Additionally, I will address the critical and complementary work of modifying the regulatory landscape to put plant-based and clean products on a level playing field with animal products and to overcome the barriers to acceptance for these new or remade foods.
Investors as a force for good for animal advocacy
Rosie Wardle • Programme Director, Jeremy Coller Foundation
This presentation focuses on responsible investors as agents of change in animal advocacy, in particular the approach of the Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return (FAIRR) initiative, an investor network that aims to put factory farming on the responsible investment agenda by highlighting the financial risk to companies directly and indirectly exposed to factory farming.
The need for an EA assessment of harms and benefits of animal research
Kathrin Herrmann • European Specialist in Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law
This talk outlines some flaws in the harm-benefit arguments used to justify animal research, including lack of rigour and transparency in presenting harms and benefits, overlooking the possibility that the benefits could be obtained without using animals, and the unreliable transferability of results of animal research to humans. Given these flaws, the speakers argue that the EA community is uniquely positioned to develop a rigorous harm-benefit assessment with the potential to influence large-scale change.
How do new products affect ethical beliefs?
Eva Vivalt • Visiting Assistant Professor, Economics, Stanford University
New substitutes for animal products are constantly being developed. These new products can not just directly make it easier to reduce animal product consumption, but they can also affect our ethical beliefs. This presentation discusses new work on the impact of new products, with reference to both new plant-based products as well as “cultured” or “clean” meat.
Preventing suffering and promoting animal rights: how best to gauge success?
Jessica Sandler • VP for Regulatory Testing, PETA; Director of the PETA International Science Consortium Ltd
A broad approach to quantifying success in the animal rights movement is needed. In addition to attempting to quantify rates of veganism, other campaigns prevent massive animal suffering, including that of animals used in painful experiments, in entertainment, or in the clothing industry, as well as efforts to avoid the birth of homeless animals. Gauges of success include government agency statistics on animal use, the popularity and purchase of products obtained without animal use, the trend among corporations to adopt in vitro tests, and more. Documented shifts in public perceptions and opinions also have wide reverberations in opening people up to the concept of not eating animals.
The moral arc: Social science and movement building • Zachary Groff
Ling-Ann Hsiung Memorial Fellow; International Press Coordinator, Direct Action Everywhere (DxE)
Animal rights activists have committed significant effort to examining the literature on persuasion and other evidence, primarily from psychology, on changing public opinion. Comparatively little attention has been devoted to questions of movement building, pressuring institutions, and affecting social norms; particularly with regard to historical, sociological, and political science literature. We preview the initial findings of research conducted as part of writing a book surveying the systemic evidence on creating an effective social movement. We pay particular attention to the questions of how to mobilize activists and use mass mobilization to effect institutional change.