the psychology of eating meat guilt and social status n.
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The psychology of eating meat : guilt and social status. Stijn Bruers. Introduction. Guilt Social status Brain research. Guilt. Claim: a large group of meat eaters (20-40%?) feel really uneasy about their meat consumption (although they would not admit it),

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  • Guilt
  • Social status
  • Brain research
  • Claim: a large group of meat eaters (20-40%?) feel really uneasy about their meat consumption (although they would not admit it),

and they suppress their feelings of guilt, using a lot of psychological strategies.

They continue eating meat mostly due to social pressure (or lack of knowledge).

guilt cognitive dissonance
Guilt: cognitivedissonance
  • Eatingtomatoesviolates the right to beround and juicy…
  • Rationalisations: 150 logicalfallacies, 90%: more than 2 counter arguments
  • Peopleoftenreactbyeating more meat
  • Eatingmeat, animalsorcorpses?
guilt empathic distress
Guilt: empathicdistress
  • We don’t want to kill a chickenwithourown hands and teeth
  • 85% of Americansdon’t want to killananimal, not even with a knife
  • In traditional cultures: Ritualsforkillinganimals
  • PerpetrationInduced Traumatic Stress (Rachel McNair 2002; Jennifer Dillard 2008)
guilt moral confusion
Guilt: Moralconfusion
  • Eatingdogs? (Melanie Joy)
  • We shouldnottortureanimalsforourpleasure, but…? (Gary Francione)
guilt moral disengagement
Guilt: Moral disengagement

Bilewicz et al., 2010

  • Meat eaters and veg*ans believe animals feel primary emotions (pain, pleasure)
  • Veg*ans ascribe more secondary emotions (grief, guilt,…) to animals than meat eaters do. Meat eaters more strongly believe secondary emotions are uniquely human.
  • Meat eaters see a stronger moral distinction between primary and secondary emotions
  • Meat eaters ascribe less secondary emotions to edible animals than to non-edible animals!! Veg*ans see no difference between edible and non-edible animals

-> human uniqueness is strategy for moral disengagement

guilt moral blind spot
Guilt: Moral blind spot
  • Denial (Jeffrey Masson)
  • Rationalignorance and rationalirrationality (Caplan, 2001)
  • “Wirhaben es nicht gewusst”
  • “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” (President Thomas Jefferson, 1776)
guilt the 5 stages of grief
Guilt: The 5 stages of grief

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression (feeling lack of control, hopeless)
  • Acceptance

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” (Arthur Schopenhauer)

guilt evolution in society
Guilt: Evolution in society
  • Increased concern about discrimination
  • Increased knowledge of biological sciences
  • Increased concern for animal welfare laws
  • Increasing dissociation animal origin – meat
  • Decreasing transparancy
    • Increased transparancy > less meat consumption, but only for people with universalistic values (Hoogland et al, 2005)
  • Socialpressure (peer pressure, media, bystander effect…)

-> We’vecreated a trap

Values <> ananimalholocaust!

reasons to eat meat
Reasons to eatmeat
  • Ignorance factor:
    • health concerns
    • lack of knowledge / deception
  • Selfishness factor:
    • taste
    • habit
    • money
    • ease
  • Social factor:
    • peer pressure (fear)
    • social status
social status
Social status
  • Claim: a large group of people (40%?) eat meat, not for the taste (although that’s what they claim), but for their social status (social power & dominance)

They will deny this social status influence upon them

status taste prejudices
Status: Taste & prejudices
  • 10.000 vegan recipies
  • Using spices to flavour meat
  • Taste of a product is influenced by value system: better taste evaluation if there is a value-symbol congruence (Allen et al. 2008)
  • Meat is symbol of social power and inequality (Adams 1990; Fiddes 1991; Heisley 1990; Twigg 1983)
    • seeking authority, wealth, social recognition, preserving one’s public image, pressuring others to go along with their preferences and opinions
status language symbols
Status: Language & symbols
  • A hierarchy of animal products (cfr. cars)
  • Use of language (“Steak à point”, but not “Carrot al dente”?)
  • French words: pork, beef, foiegras (French aristocracy). But chicken? Fish?
status values meat identification
Status: Values & meatidentification
  • Heavy meateatersendorsesocial power more thanvegetarians (Lea & Worsley, 2001)
  • Meat attitudes (red meat) related to conservativevalues, inequality and hierarchy (Allen & Sik Hung, 2003)
  • Nutritional (dis)valuenot important formeatidentifiers
status men and women
Status: Men and women
  • Man behind the BBQ
  • Vegetarian men are not real men (Steven Heine, 2011). Most women prefer meat eating men. (Vegetarian men are considered more virtuous)
status aggression
Status: Aggression
  • Fibre prevents testosterone excess. Animal products contain no fiber -> vegetarians are less likely to be aggressive and domineering. (Boston University’s School of Medicine, 1989)
status taste prejudices1
Status: Taste & prejudices

(Allen et al., 2008)

brain research
Brain research
  • Different brainactivitybetweenomnivores, vegetarians and vegans, looking at human and animalnegativescenes

-> empathytowardshumans and animals have different neuralrepresentations (Filippi et al., 2010)