The social context and culture in which individuals grow shapes their perspectives through life. Early on, children learn about animals through storybooks, animated movies, toys, and through interactions with pets and wildlife, and will slowly start to build beliefs around those experiences. Their attitudes towards animals will be influenced by a number of factors, including: sex, age, nationality/ethnicity, residence area, animal-related activities and hobbies, food habits, culture/religion education, and pet ownership. A case study of Dutch and Belgian high school students (aged 12⁻21) investigated the attitudes of young people towards animals. By using the Animal Attitude Scale (AAS) and the Animal Issue Scale (AIS) questionnaires, our study shows that levels of concern for animal welfare were distinctly higher among: female participants; those who ate little to no meat; Belgian students; pet owners; and those who had been to a zoo at least once. In general, students who reported having more contact with animals also had more positive attitudes towards animals. To understand younger generations and their attitudes toward animals is to understand how future generations will look towards and treat our fellow animals, with which we share the planet Earth.
Keywords: animal attitudes; animal welfare; young adult.