What is so positive about positive animal welfare? A critical review of the literature

AB Lawrence, Belinda Vigors, Peter Sandoe

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

96 Citations (Scopus)
40 Downloads (Pure)


It is claimed that positive animal welfare (PAW) developed over the last decade in reaction to animal welfare focusing too much on avoiding negatives. However, it remains unclear what PAW adds to the animal welfare literature and to what extent its ideas are new. Through a critical review of the PAW literature, we aim to separate different aspects of PAW and situate it in relation to the traditional animal welfare literature. We find that the core PAW literature is small (n = 10 papers) but links to wider areas of current research interest. The PAW literature is defined by four features: (1) positive emotions which is arguably the most widely acknowledged; (2) positive affective engagement which serves to functionally link positive emotions to goal-directed behavior; (3) quality of life which serves to situate PAW within the context of finding the right balance of positives over negatives; (4) happiness which brings a full life perspective to PAW. While the two first points are already part of welfare research going back decades, the two latter points could be linked to more recent research agendas concerning aggregation and how specific events may affect the ability of animals to make the best of their lives.
Original languageEnglish
Article number783
Number of pages19
Issue number10
Publication statusPrint publication - 11 Oct 2019


  • Positive animal welfare
  • Critical review
  • Positive emotions
  • Positive affective engagement
  • Quality of life
  • Happiness


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