Direct Versus Indirect Questioning: An Application to the Well-Being of Farm Animals

Abstract

Recent events suggest people are increasingly concerned not just with their own well-being but that of animals as well. However, there is little systematic evidence on people’s willingness-to-trade their own well-being and quality of life for improvements in the well-being of farm animals. In this paper, we utilize a straightforward and unobtrusive technique to mitigate socially desirability effects and gage the publics’ opinion about farm animal welfare: indirect questioning. In survey of United States households, we find sharp differences between direct and indirect questions related to farm animal welfare. For example, whereas only 15.6% of the public said they think low meat prices are more important than the well-being of farm animals, 67.5% said the average American thinks low meat prices are more important than the well-being of farm animals. This finding, coupled with the extant literature on indirect questioning, suggests that people’s concerns for farm animal welfare are actually much lower than what they say they are.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    People were also permitted to respond with “I don’t know.”

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Correspondence to Jayson L. Lusk.

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Lusk, J.L., Norwood, F.B. Direct Versus Indirect Questioning: An Application to the Well-Being of Farm Animals. Soc Indic Res 96, 551–565 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-009-9492-z

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Keywords

  • Animal welfare
  • Indirect questioning
  • Social desirability bias