For Those of Us Gearing Up for Deer Season
Don’t Mind Meat? The Denial of Mind to Animals Used for Human Consumption
Brock Bastian et al., Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming
Abstract: Many people like eating meat, but most are reluctant to harm things that have minds. The current three studies show that this dissonance motivates people to deny minds to animals. Study 1 demonstrates that animals considered appropriate for human consumption are ascribed diminished mental capacities. Study 2 shows that meat eaters are motivated to deny minds to food animals when they are reminded of the link between meat and animal suffering. Finally, Study 3 provides direct support for our dissonance hypothesis, showing that expectations regarding the immediate consumption of meat increase mind denial. Moreover, this mind denial in turn reduces negative affect associated with dissonance. The findings highlight the role of dissonance reduction in facilitating the practice of meat eating and protecting cultural commitments.
They should probably have controlled for people who were hunters. We don't really think deer are stupid, or have diminished mental capacity. They are, however, delicious. That's why we shoot them, cut them up, cook them, and eat them.
The lead author is Brock Bastian, who has also discovered that violent video games cause violent behavior. (Though, as this article notes, the specifics of the study framework were not "revealed," presumably because they were too disturbing for peer review). I'm not sure we should attribute "mind" Brock Bastian.