Humane Attitudes and Empathic Tendencies in Chinese Young People: Implications for Humane Education

  •  Suk-Chun Fung    


This is the first study to investigate humane attitudes toward animals and empathic tendencies toward humans among Chinese adolescents and young adults. The present study administered two scales, the Animal Attitude Scale (AAS) and Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI), to 471 Hong Kong secondary school and university students who were between the ages of 14 and 25. The findings of the present study suggest that Chinese secondary school and university students tend to consider the instrumental value of animals used for the benefit of humans. Animal use for luxury purposes was most unacceptable, while animal use for survival purposes was most acceptable to these students. The many undecided responses on animal welfare issues might reflect students’ lack of knowledge regarding the availability of non-animal alternatives in our lives. The results also show that there is a strong link between humane attitudes and human empathy in the young people in Hong Kong. Gender and education level were found to be significant factors of a humane attitude as well as human-directed empathy. The current study implies that a humane education (HE) program could be particularly beneficial to the empathy development of male adolescents.

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