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What makes a crime?: the perceived harmfulness, wrongfulness, and seriousness of offenses against nonhuman animals

By K. Wagner, S. Owen, T. W. Burke

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Abstract

The purpose of this research was to explore the perceived seriousness of crimes, such as abuse and neglect, committed against nonhuman animals. Drawing upon the methods of previous work on crime seriousness, it was hypothesized that perceptions of the harmfulness and wrongfulness of animal offenses would influence perceptions of seriousness, with wrongfulness being the most powerful predictor. A survey was administered to a sample of college students ( n=245), and the hypotheses were supported. The results also indicated that crimes against animals were ranked as more serious than property offenses but less serious than crimes against persons. Furthermore, the two predictors - harmfulness and wrongfulness - explained a greater amount of variance in the perceived seriousness of offenses against animals than for property or person offenses. Results are contextualized within policy and philosophical perspectives pertaining to how offenses against animals are viewed by society and addressed by the legal system.

Publication Title Society & Animals
Volume 23
Issue 5
Pages 439-461
ISBN/ISSN 1063-1119
Publisher Brill
DOI 10.1163/15685306-12341373
Language English
Author Address Lynchburg College, 1501 Lakeside Dr, Lynchburg, VA 24501, USA.ssowen@radford.edu
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Tags
  1. Abnormal behavior
  2. Animals
  3. Animal welfare
  4. Attitudes
  5. Crime
  6. Domestic animals
  7. Humans
  8. Livestock
  9. Mammals
  10. Men
  11. peer-reviewed
  12. Philosophy
  13. Primates
  14. regulations
  15. Relationships
  16. vertebrates
Badges
  1. peer-reviewed