Speciesism, generalized prejudice, and perceptions of prejudiced others

Jim A.C. Everett, Lucius Caviola, Julian Savulescu, and Nadira Faber
Group Processes and Intergroup Relations

Philosophers have argued there is a normative relationship between our attitudes towards animals (“speciesism”) and other prejudices, and psychological work suggests speciesism relies on similar psychological processes and motivations as those underlying other prejudices. But do laypeople perceive such a connection? We compared perceptions of a target who is high or low on speciesism with those of a target who is high or low on racism (Studies 1- 2), sexism (Study 2), or homophobia (Study 3). We find that just like racists, sexists, and homophobes, speciesists were both evaluated more negatively and expected to hold more general prejudicial attitudes and ideologies (e.g. thought to be higher in SDO and more prejudiced in other ways). Our results suggest that laypeople seem intuitively aware of the connection between speciesism and ‘traditional’ forms of prejudice, inferring similar personality traits and general prejudicial attitudes from a speciesist just as they do from a racist, sexist, or homophobe.