School of Biological and Chemical Sciences

Caroline Spence


PhD student



Project title: Public Attitudes to Animal Sentience and Welfare

Summary: Recent research has provided increasing evidence for sentience amongst various animal species, where it is defined as the ability to feel subjective states such as suffering. This changing attitude extends to the general population in which there is mounting concern regarding the failure of modern animal production systems to satisfy animals’ physiological and behavioural needs or ‘welfare’. 

Public pressure has already resulted in the banning of some intensive farming practices such as veal crates and battery cages for hens. Additionally, following the horsemeat scandal, half of UK consumers altered their shopping habits by decreasing their consumption of meat and processed foods. My PhD investigates how human attitudes to sentience may have contributed to this significant change and affect public opinion of acceptable animal use.

I will also research and develop actions considered capable of reducing the disparity between industry standards and public expectations of animal welfare.

This research is supported by World Animal Protection and funded by the ESRC