Date Awarded

Spring 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.Sc.)




Catherine A. Forestell

Committee Member

Cheryl L. Dickter

Committee Member

Meghan Miller


Vegetarians are a unique social minority group because they fail to engage in dominant social norms with respect to meat consumption. Research has revealed that vegetarians reported lower self-esteem, lower psychological adjustment, less meaning in life, more negative moods, and more negative social experiences than omnivores. These experiences may be the result of experiencing ostracism, exclusion, disrespect, and derogation from omnivores. Although previous research has shown that omnivores report relatively positive explicit attitudes toward vegetarians, these reports can be susceptible to social desirability biases and may undermine the degree of negativity of omnivores’ attitudes toward vegetarians. To understand the nature of attitudes towards vegetarians, the current study examined both the explicit and implicit attitudes of omnivores towards vegetarians. To assess explicit attitudes, we used the Attitude Toward Vegetarians Scale (ATVS) and a feeling thermometer. To assess implicit attitudes, we used a modified version of the Implicit Association Test. We also assessed social dominance orientation (SDO), human supremacy beliefs, and meat attachment as potential predictors of attitudes. Results from 275 college students who self-identified as omnivores and flexitarians revealed that while participants had positive explicit attitudes towards vegetarians, their implicit attitudes were neither positive nor negative. Further, there were sex differences such that men had negative implicit attitudes, while women had neutral implicit attitudes towards vegetarians. Finally, we found that SDO and meat dependence predicted explicit attitudes, while dietary habits uniquely predicted implicit attitudes towards vegetarians. The findings from the current study contribute to our understanding of attitudes towards vegetarians and may explain why vegetarians report negative social experiences with their omnivore peers.



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