Animal abuse proclivity among women: Exploring callousness, sadism and psychopathy traits

Ireland, Jane Louise orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-5117-5930, Birch, Philip, Lewis, Michael orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-5567-3569, Mian, Ushna and Ireland, Carol Ann orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-7310-2903 (2022) Animal abuse proclivity among women: Exploring callousness, sadism and psychopathy traits. Anthrozoos, 35 (1). pp. 37-53. ISSN 0892-7936

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Official URL: 10.1080/08927936.2021.1944560


Two studies examining adult women are presented. The first (n = 162) examines the relationship between proclivity (i.e. interest in, predisposition) to abuse animals and the link to aggression motivation, with psychopathy traits, sadism and general maladaptive personality explored. The second study (n = 159) extended to focus on callous-unemotional traits. We predicted that proclivity to abuse would be associated with increased proactive aggression, with the former also associated with higher levels of psychopathy, sadism and callousness. These traits were expected to mediate the relationship between proclivity to abuse and aggression. Results confirmed that between one to two thirds of women reported at least some proclivity to abuse animals. An association between proclivity and proactive aggression was demonstrated, with callousness-uncaring and sadism representing important traits to account for. Results are discussed with attention to the implications for developing a theoretical understanding of the proclivity to abuse animals.

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