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Title: Adult perpetrated animal abuse : the role of maladaptive emotion regulation
Author: Parfitt, Charlotte
ISNI:       0000 0005 0287 3806
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2019
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Animal abuse is a prevalent form of aggressive behaviour that inflicts pain and suffering onto animals and families alike. Despite this, research and theory focusing on the motivations for such behaviour appear to be sparse and limited in development when compared to other types of offending behaviour, such as interpersonal violence. The current thesis investigates the general hypothesis that maladaptive emotion regulation facilitates animal abuse perpetrated by adults. We focus on two specific emotion regulation styles that have been implicated in existing literature; that is, the mis-regulation and under-regulation of emotions. Based on existing research and theories, this thesis explores the facilitative role emotion regulation plays in the perpetration of animal abuse. In this thesis, a new conceptual framework is presented, based on an existing process model of emotion (Gross, 1998), elucidating the role of adopting different emotion regulation strategies in animal abuse perpetration. Studies 1 and 2 explore the sociodemographic and psychological factors (i.e., self/emotion-regulation) identified in the existing literature in animal abusers, violent offenders, and non-offenders. Study 3 is a qualitative exploration of emotion regulation throughout the offence process. Participants who indicated they had engaged in animal abuse behaviours twice or more were asked to describe their thoughts, feelings and emotions throughout the perpetration of the abuse. Study 4 presents the development and validation of the Whack-a-Pet (WaP) 'game'; a behavioural proxy of animal abuse. The final two studies (Studies 5 and 6) were experimental in nature. They involved inducing emotion regulation strategies to see their effect on indicators of animal-directed aggression. Taken together, the results from this thesis support the notion that maladaptive emotion regulation strategies are pivotal in the expression of aggression towards animals. Specifically, the findings show that people who have difficulties with cognitive reappraisal and/or employ suppression techniques are more likely to be aggressive towards animals. The findings of this thesis also highlight further emotion regulatory (anger rumination) and appraisal (animal-oriented empathy) factors that facilitate this behaviour. The thesis concludes with a discussion of methodological limitations, practical implications of the findings, and suggestions for future research.
Supervisor: Alleyne, Emma Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available