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Conceptualising Animal Abuse with an Antisocial Behaviour Framework

School of Psychology and Psychiatry, Monash University, Monash, Victoria 3800, Australia
Animals 2011, 1(1), 144-160;
Received: 21 December 2010 / Accepted: 18 January 2011 / Published: 26 January 2011
PDF [79 KB, uploaded 26 January 2011]

Simple Summary

There is increasing acceptance of the links between animal abuse and aggressive or antisocial behaviours toward humans. Nevertheless, researchers and other professionals continue to call for methodologically sound empirical research amongst claims that current animal abuse research is methodologically limited. Below, I argue that current conceptualizations of antisocial and aggressive human behavior logically incorporate animal abuse. Given that the body of empirical evidence available to support of theories of antisocial and aggressive behaviour is large and sound, conceptualization of animal abuse as an aggressive behaviour rather than a behaviour that is somehow different, enables us to confidently promote putting current understanding into practice.


This paper reviews current findings in the human aggression and antisocial behaviour literature and those in the animal abuse literature with the aim of highlighting the overlap in conceptualisation. The major aim of this review is to highlight that the co-occurrence between animal abuse behaviours and aggression and violence toward humans can be logically understood through examination of the research evidence for antisocial and aggressive behaviour. From examination through this framework, it is not at all surprising that the two co-occur. Indeed, it would be surprising if they did not. Animal abuse is one expression of antisocial behaviour. What is also known from the extensive antisocial behaviour literature is that antisocial behaviours co-occur such that the presence of one form of antisocial behaviour is highly predictive of the presence of other antisocial behaviours. From such a framework, it becomes evident that animal abuse should be considered an important indicator of antisocial behaviour and violence as are other aggressive and antisocial behaviours. The implications of such a stance are that law enforcement, health and other professionals should not minimize the presence of animal abuse in their law enforcement, prevention, and treatment decisions. View Full-Text
Keywords: animal abuse; antisocial behavior; violence; aggression; comorbidity animal abuse; antisocial behavior; violence; aggression; comorbidity
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Gullone, E. Conceptualising Animal Abuse with an Antisocial Behaviour Framework. Animals 2011, 1, 144-160.

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