Attitudes Towards Animals: A Comparison Between the U.S., Japan, and Germany

Background

In this lab, we compared  attitudes towards animals between three countries: the Unites States, Japan and Germany. How a population views wildlife draws parallels to what issues they prioritize and how they view the natural world. Comparisons were based off a study done by Stephen Kellert who surveyed population samples from the three countries listed above over a ten year period. He conducted this survey through a series of interviews and noticed reoccurring patterns between respondents from each country.

Kellert found several differences between the populations of the three countries he surveyed. American and German respondents favored  wild animals while Japanese respondents preferred aesthetically appealing animals or animals of cultural significance. Although Germans and Americans tended to favor wild animals, they also showed great appreciation of domesticated animals like dogs. This lab further investigates these trends and relates them to data drawn from the Gesis 2010 Environmental Module.

Procedure

We examined data collected from the International Social Survey Program which collects  international data and conducts yearly surveys on topics relating to social science. In lab teams, we scoured the Gesis 2010 Environmental Module, a database of survey results from questions about attitudes towards the environment, and each chose a question or statement to investigate. I chose: Highest Priority in (R’s) Country, this was question Q3a.

Next, we downloaded this data for Japan, Germany and the US to compare responses to the chosen statement.  Answers ranged from 1 – 9 with 8 and 9 being can’t choose or N/A. Responses for highest priorities were,  1: maintain order in the nation, 2: give people more say in government decisions, 3: fight  rising prices, and 4: protect freedom of speech. For the sake of preventing data skewness, we replaced responses of  8 or 9 with blank cells. Once responses were organized with a different column for each country, we were ready to analyze the data. In our analysis, we found the mean, standard deviation, ran a T – test for P values, created charts and histograms.

Results

[table id=5 /]

The table above displays the mean responses to the statement “Highest Priority in (R’s) country where 1 = maintain order in the nation, 2 = give people more say in government decisions, 3 = fight  rising prices, and 4 = protect freedom of speech.

[table id=6 /]

The table above shows the t-test values as P values and whether the null hypothesis was accepted or rejected. T-tests are used to analyze how statistically different data is between two groups. A high t-test score implies that  groups are different while a low t-test score shows that groups are similar. Low P values indicate that the data did not occur by chance and p values of 0.05 or greater indicates that the data did occur by chance so it is valid. Since the P values of comparisons between Germany & Japan and Japan &  the USA are minuscule decimals, the null hypothesis was rejected. Since the P value comparing Germany to the USA was above 0.05, results were by chance and the null hypothesis was accepted.

The histogram above displays average responses to the statement regarding the highest priorities in each country. The error bar represents standard deviation.

Implications

Upon examining the averages of the three countries, Germany and America have similar priorities with regards to people having more say in government decisions. This draws parallels with Kellert’s study as Germans and Americans also shared similar attitudes towards animals. Japan differed with its highest priority on average being maintaining order in the nation. This also relates to Kellert as the Japanese showed an affinity for interacting with animals in highly structured situations, implying a need for order. It is important to understand our highest priorities as a country along with our attitudes towards animals to analyze nationwide trends environmental values. Such reflects the varying priorities of Germany, the USA and Japan.

 

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