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The Relationship between Animal Cruelty, Delinquency, and Attitudes toward the Treatment of Animals

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Previous research has identified a relationship between acts of cruelty to animals other than humans and involvement in other forms of antisocial behavior. The current study sought to extend these findings by examining this relationship among a sample of college students using a self-report delinquency methodology. In addition, the current study explored the relationship between a history of observing or engaging in acts of animal cruelty and attitudes of sensitivity/concern regarding the treatment of nonhuman animals. College students (n = 169) enrolled in an Introduction to Psychology course comprised the sample. Results indicated that those participants who observed acts of animal cruelty and those who participated in acts of animal cruelty had higher scores on a self-report delinquency scale than did those who had never observed or participated in acts of animal cruelty. Observation of acts of animal cruelty interacted with sex to predict attitudes toward the treatment of animals. Observation of animal cruelty and par ticipation in animal cruelty affected delinquency scores independently. The current study discusses implications and directions for future research.


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