Reducing the consumer attitude-behaviour gap in animal welfare: the potential role of 'nudges'

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Abstract

Citizen concern for the welfare of farm animals is well documented. However, there is a notable gap between people saying they want improved farm animal welfare and how they actually behave as a consumer. This is known as the citizen–consumer attitude–behaviour gap. As improvements in farm animal welfare can be affected by market demand, the choices consumers make become important. This paper introduces the concept of ‘nudging’ and discusses how it could be applied to reduce the attitude–behaviour gap amongst consumers. By designing the choice environment to better reflect the behavioural biases known to impact human decision-making, ‘nudge’ tools function to prompt individuals to make choices that are aligned with their stated intentions. Four ‘nudge’ tools: self-nudges, choice architecture, social norms and pre-commitments are discussed. The behavioural rationales for their use are reviewed and examples of how they might be applied to animal welfare provided. Improved farm animal welfare arguably requires improved pro-welfare consumer behaviour. This paper highlights how this might be encouraged by: self-nudging the salience of an ethical self-image; altering the choice architecture to influence decision-making; articulating social norms to impact behaviour; and using pre-commitment devices to overcome self-control issues.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-254
Number of pages23
JournalAnimals
Volume8
Issue number12
Early online date5 Dec 2018
DOIs
Publication statusFirst published - 5 Dec 2018

Keywords

  • animal welfare
  • behaviour change
  • behavioural economics
  • choice architecture
  • nudge
  • pre-commitments
  • social norms

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