Women Who See Pictures of Baby Animals Have a Reduced Appetite for Meat

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This is such an interesting study! Researchers at Lancaster University wanted to measure parent’s emotional attunement to babies. So they showed men and women pictures of baby animals, to see if it had any effect on their desire to eat meat. The experiment did change the appetite for meat in the study participants, but men and women had much different reactions!

Researchers sought to find out if seeing pictures of baby animals reduced one’s appetite for meat.

Using pictures of cute and cuddly animals to dissuade people from eating meat it not a new tactic. Animal rights activists routinely use pictures as a way to reduce people’s appetite for meat. But they’re usually appealing to one’s sense of “OMG so cute!”. But researchers at Lancaster University wanted to know if there was any difference between men and women who viewed the pictures, and what their reactions were.

Psychologists Dr. Jared Piazza and Dr. Neil McLatchie of Lancaster University in the UK with Cecilie Olesen of University College London were involved in the study. They showed men and women pictures of calves, baby kangaroos, piglets, and lambs. They then measured how their appetite for meat was affected. The groups were shown pictures of cooked meat, and told the meat came from the animal that they previously viewed. They were then asked about their desire to eat meat.

While both men and women had a reduction in appetite for meat. But women experienced a much greater reduction.

Dr. Piazza surmises that this could be connected to women’s emotional attunement to babies and their natural maternal instincts. He says, “Our findings may reflect women’s greater emotional attunement towards babies and, by extension, their tendency to empathise more with baby animals. Also, meat is associated with masculinity and images of tough men who consume meat for muscle building protein, along with prehistoric ideas of the male as hunter. Women have a much more ambivalent attitude towards meat and their identity is not bound up with it in the same way.”

This jibes with previous research that shows women are just more responsive and receptive to cute babies. It’s such an interesting phenomenon! The next time you’re craving a nice steak but don’t want to eat it, look at some pictures of baby cows. Seems to be a good deterrent!

(Image: iStock/Ben-Schonewille)