The Effects of Kinship, Reciprocity, and Conscious Deliberation on the Level of Concern for Non-Humans

Barton Thompson & Cindy Quinter

Albright College

As hunter-gatherers, it is unlikely that humans evolved psychological tendencies to extend high levels of concern for predator or prey species. Our coalitional psychology, which evolved to regulate human interactions with other humans, might be the basis for the extension of ethical concerns to non-humans. This research identified three variables (kinship, reciprocity, and conscious deliberation) that affect our altruistic tendencies toward humans and tested them to see if they also affected our concern toward non-humans. Using a sample of 119 respondents from participants at animal auctions, the researchers compared levels of concern to: perceived the animals as family; received benefits from the animals; and/or consciously contemplated appropriate levels of concern. The data supported the hypotheses that concerns rise when animals are re-categorized as kin and/or when individuals have previously considered appropriate levels of concern, but it did not support the hypothesized connection between concern and reciprocity.

keywords: Attitudes, Concern, Non-Human, Kinship, Reciprocity, Evolutionary, Psychology

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Barton Thompson, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Albright College, 13th & Bern Streets, Reading, PA 19612. Email: bthompson@albright.edu.

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