Survey research on attitudes and behavior toward animals is affected by the hypothetical character of behavioral measurements and socially desirable responses. Drawing on previous research in the fields of environmental behavior and behavioral economics, we combined the advantages of incentivized behavioral experiments and large-scale surveys by asking 2,299 participants in “dictator games” to allocate 10 euros between a charity for poverty reduction and themselves, as well as between a charity for animal protection and themselves (presented in counterbalanced order, with 200 allocations paid to the charities and participants). On average, participants donated approximately 70% of the 10 euros to each charity but donated slightly more money (0.42 euros) for poverty reduction than animal protection. Interestingly, participants allocated the same amount of money to the first charity (whether for humans or animals), but their second allocation depended on the charity and indicated an anthropocentric bias (i.e., higher allocations to poverty reduction than animal protection). Women donated more for animal protection than men, and stronger pro-animal attitudes were associated with higher donations for animal protection. We also found a positive effect of a “social desirability” scale on incentivized donations. In sum, our study finds that participants gave more to humanitarian than animal charities. However, this difference is less than fifty cents and, consequently, minor in magnitude.
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