Drawing the Line: The Reconciliation of Conflicting Behaviors Toward Other Animals

Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Research Paper

Degree Name



Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Laura Meyer, Ph.D.

Second Committee Member

Judy Fox, Ph.D.

Third Committee Member

Sarah Bexell, Ph.D.


Moral disengagement, Animals, Cognitive dissonance, Animal-related behaviors

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


The present study aimed to explore the cognitive and emotional experiences of individuals seeking to reconcile conflicting behaviors toward animals (e.g., a vegetarian who continues to buy leather products). Research questions were : 1) Do individuals with conflicting behaviors toward animals experience internal conflicts? 2) How do they resolve those conflicts? and 3) What factors might motivate them to change their behaviors? While previous work has focused on internal processes used in behavioral decision-making toward animals, research has failed to address how individuals resolve apparent inconsistency within their own set of behaviors (i.e., behaviors that are contradictory). The present qualitative study used a semi-structured interview format in which participants explored their current behaviors and how they resolved inconsistencies between them. Interviews were analyzed using Content Analysis by first deductively identifying themes related to Factors for Change, Moral Engagement, and Emotional Experience. Results from the present study suggests that Moral Disengagement strategies are used to distance individuals from behaviors they consider immoral and that there are several factors for change that can be considered to inform the human use of other animals.


47 pgs.

Paper Method

Empirical - Qualitative

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