The Effects of Animal-Free Food Technology Awareness on Animal Farming Opposition

post by Jamie_Harris · 2020-05-16T07:30:35.987Z · score: 30 (13 votes) · EA · GW · 5 comments

This is a link post for https://www.sentienceinstitute.org/afft-experiment

There is limited research on the effects of animal-free food technologies (AFFT), such as cultured meat and new plant-based foods that accurately mimic animal products, on attitudes toward animal farming. This study found that providing participants with information about AFFT significantly lowered animal farming opposition (AFO) relative to participants who were provided with information about low-technology plant-based foods or about an unrelated topic. The results suggest that including information about AFFT in advocacy materials can be detrimental to attitudinal change. Information about low-technology plant-based foods had no significant effects on AFO relative to information about an unrelated topic, so does not seem to have this downside.

See the full post here. (Shared as a linkpost because there's quite a few tables and appendices that I thought might be difficult to reformat for the Forum)

5 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by antimonyanthony · 2020-05-17T15:32:27.211Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Excellent and important, if sobering, work! I've gotten the sense that very general social psychology arguments about animal advocacy strategy can go either way (foot in the door vs door in the face, etc.), so it's refreshing to see specific studies on this that tell me something not at all obvious. I like the preregistration and use of FDR control. Some minor remarks:

  • "the power (the risk of false negative results)" - I believe this should be the complement of that risk
  • "If the AFFT articles encourage the view that animal-free alternatives are unnatural, they could strengthen one of the key justifications for animal product consumption." - Seems like your results for the model with an interaction between reading about AFFT and preference for naturalness have some implications for this. In that model reading about AFFT is no longer significant, nor is the interaction. But I suppose under this hypothesis you'd expect a noticeable negative interaction: the stronger one's preference for naturalness, the more strongly reading about AFFT decreases their AFO.
comment by Jamie_Harris · 2020-05-17T19:58:46.642Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Good point that the interaction terms are relevant to that. But yeah, the nonsignificant relationships there don't tell us much, I don't think, as the interaction term is presumably just "cannibalising" the effect of AFFT.

comment by Tom_Beggs · 2020-05-20T22:08:35.469Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for the interesting article, Jamie!

I'd be inclined to think that it's the second explanation offered in the discussion that's driving the effect--naturalness bias happens in a lot of areas, and the AFFT texts were pretty lab/tech-heavy. It would be easy to test whether the first mechanism you proposed is correct by asking people whether they think farming will be replaced with these technologies. Future studies could also present the AFFTs in a less science-heavy way to see if the effect is attenuated. :)

comment by Aaron Gertler (aarongertler) · 2020-05-29T09:05:03.573Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for taking the time to post a summary, even if the full article didn't make it to the Forum!

For reasons related to this study's findings, I was very happy when GFI published its "cultivated meat" announcement. As a phrase, it doesn't sound wholly natural, but I do think it would sell better with a general audience than most other ways of talking about AFFT. (That said, I haven't seen any actual studies to this effect.)

comment by Jamie_Harris · 2020-05-29T10:40:34.075Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks! GFI did some focus group research around the name cultivated meat, but as far as I know, didn't test it in any RCTs. ACE's RCT also only compared "clean" and "cultured." The differences are all pretty small though between name types. I'd be surprised if differences in the names of the products altered the sign of the effect of increased awareness about AFFT.