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Animals 2019, 9(4), 147; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9040147

Citizens’ and Farmers’ Framing of ‘Positive Animal Welfare’ and the Implications for Framing Positive Welfare in Communication

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3RG, UK
Received: 4 March 2019 / Revised: 20 March 2019 / Accepted: 1 April 2019 / Published: 4 April 2019
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Simple Summary

The words used to communicate farm animal welfare to non-specialists may be more important than knowledge of welfare itself. Framing research finds that human perception is influenced, not by what is said, but by how something is said. By increasing the emphasis placed on animals having positive experiences, positive animal welfare changes the framing of farm animal welfare. Yet, we do not know how such framing of animal welfare may influence the perceptions of key animal welfare stakeholders. In response, this study uses qualitative interviews to explore how citizens and farmers frame positive animal welfare and what this means for the effective communication of this concept. This study finds that ‘positive’ evokes associations with ‘negatives’ amongst citizens. This leads them to frame positive animal welfare as animals having ‘positive experiences’ or being ‘free from negative experiences’. Farmers rely more on their existing frames of animal welfare and integrate positive welfare into this. As such, most farmers frame positive welfare as ‘good husbandry’, a smaller number frame it as ‘proactive welfare improvement’, and a small number frame it as an ‘animal’s point of view’. The implications of such internal frames for effectively transferring positive welfare from science to society are further discussed.

Abstract

Human perception can depend on how an individual frames information in thought and how information is framed in communication. For example, framing something positively, instead of negatively, can change an individual’s response. This is of relevance to ‘positive animal welfare’, which places greater emphasis on farm animals being provided with opportunities for positive experiences. However, little is known about how this framing of animal welfare may influence the perception of key animal welfare stakeholders. Through a qualitative interview study with farmers and citizens, undertaken in Scotland, UK, this paper explores what positive animal welfare evokes to these key welfare stakeholders and highlights the implications of such internal frames for effectively communicating positive welfare in society. Results indicate that citizens make sense of positive welfare by contrasting positive and negative aspects of welfare, and thus frame it as animals having ‘positive experiences’ or being ‘free from negative experiences’. Farmers draw from their existing frames of animal welfare to frame positive welfare as ‘good husbandry’, ‘proactive welfare improvement’ or the ‘animal’s point of view’. Implications of such internal frames (e.g., the triggering of ‘negative welfare’ associations by the word ‘positive’) for the effective communication of positive welfare are also presented. View Full-Text
Keywords: farmer perception; citizen perception; qualitative research; free elicitation narrative interviews farmer perception; citizen perception; qualitative research; free elicitation narrative interviews
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Vigors, B. Citizens’ and Farmers’ Framing of ‘Positive Animal Welfare’ and the Implications for Framing Positive Welfare in Communication. Animals 2019, 9, 147.

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