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Animals 2018, 8(9), 154; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani8090154

Exploring Social Desirability Bias in Perceptions of Dog Adoption: All’s Well that Ends Well? Or Does the Method of Adoption Matter?

1
Department of Agricultural Economics, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA
2
Department of Comparative Pathobiology and Animal Science, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 8 August 2018 / Revised: 4 September 2018 / Accepted: 8 September 2018 / Published: 13 September 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Companion Animals)
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Simple Summary

Dog adoption is often cited as an ethical and popular method of acquisition but interpretation of the term ‘adoption’ may vary. In a nationally representative survey of the U.S., 767 respondents were asked questions regarding their opinions of dog acquisition including adoption. Within the sample, 45% had a dog; of those, 40% had adopted a dog and 47% visited a veterinarian once a year. Respondents’ preferences for the most ethical method of dog adoption were elicited using a survey instrument. Our results indicate that respondents had the largest preference share for adoption from a municipal animal shelter’ (56%) and the smallest preference share for adoption from a pet store (3%). Dog acquisition was further evaluated by creating an index of social desirability bias comparing how important respondents believed certain dog characteristics were and how important respondents believed others would rate/rank the same dog characteristics. The highest incidences of social desirability bias occurred for the dog characteristics of appearance and breed.

Abstract

Dogs are a popular companion animal in the United States; however, dog acquisition is often a contentious subject. Adoption is often cited as an ethical and popular method of acquisition but interpretation of the term ‘adoption’ may vary. In a nationally representative survey of the U.S., 767 respondents were asked questions regarding their opinions of dog acquisition and adoption. Within the sample, 45% had a dog; of those, 40% had adopted a dog, and 47% visited a veterinarian once a year. A best-worst choice experiment, where respondents were asked to choose the most ethical and least ethical method of acquiring a dog from a statistically determined set of choices, was used to elicit respondents’ preferences for the most ethical method of dog adoption. A random parameters logit and a latent class model were used to estimate relative rankings of dog adoption methods. In the random parameters logit model, the largest preference share was for adoption from a municipal animal shelter (56%) and the smallest preference share was for adoption from a pet store (3%). Dog acquisition was further evaluated by creating an index of social desirability bias using how important respondents believed certain dog characteristics were compared to how important respondents believed others would rate/rank the same dog characteristics. The highest incidences of social desirability bias occurred for the dog characteristics of appearance and breed. View Full-Text
Keywords: best-worst scaling; dog acquisition; dog adoption; social desirability bias best-worst scaling; dog acquisition; dog adoption; social desirability bias
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Bir, C.; Olynk Widmar, N.; Croney, C. Exploring Social Desirability Bias in Perceptions of Dog Adoption: All’s Well that Ends Well? Or Does the Method of Adoption Matter? Animals 2018, 8, 154.

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