We recently released an evaluation of undercover investigations, the second evaluation to use our intervention evaluation form, a standardized template that provides a consistent, rigorous process for evaluating different ways of helping animals.
Our report includes a short write-up that covers the intervention’s strengths, weaknesses, long-term effects, characteristics that make implementations more effective, and robustness of evidence. These factors are considered more deeply in our full-length report. The report also includes ratings of different features of the intervention on a 1-7 scale.
In our evaluation, we drew upon evidence from conversations with investigators and advocates, our general knowledge of activism and social psychology, and reviews of the media coverage and public documentation of previous investigations.
Here’s our overall view on the intervention:
Do we recommend it? Why or why not?
We recommend undercover investigations in most instances when done by experienced organizations, although we are concerned about saturation in the U.S. that could reduce the effectiveness of investigations beyond the current level, and the potential for investigations that are conducted poorly to reduce the overall reputation of animal advocates. We think that more research is needed on what makes some investigations more impactful than others, but tentatively, we consider thoughtful messaging, such as emphasizing that abuse is rampant throughout the industry and highlighting the stories of individual animals, as important. Additionally, undercover investigations seem particularly effective when coupled with other advocacy strategies, such as protests and corporate outreach, especially if they provide public pressure for a specific campaign, such eliminating battery cages.
We are currently working on an intervention evaluation of online ads, which will use the same template as the corporate outreach and undercover investigations report. We expect to release this evaluation this spring.