Theses Doctoral

Engaging in effectiveness: the role of challenge in well-being and welfare

Franks, Kathryn Rebecca

What makes an animal's life worth living? Animal welfare scientists have been investigating this question in captive animals for nearly half a century. It has also attracted the attention of academics in other fields because this line of inquiry may improve how we not only manage animals in our care but also think about our own well-being. Concurrently, theories of human well-being and behavior are beginning to play a greater role in animal welfare science. Thus, though the overlap is still limited, the fields of animal welfare and human well-being are converging. To facilitate this integration, I propose engaging in effectiveness as common ground from which to generate hypotheses regarding well-being/welfare patterns in human and other species.

By engaging in effectiveness, I mean devoting one's resources to 1) obtaining desired results--value effectiveness, 2) establishing what is real--truth effectiveness, and 3) managing what happens--control effectiveness. In a series of experiments, I tested the ability of the engaging in effectiveness model to account for human and rat behavior. The first set of studies (in humans only) confirmed that self-reported effectiveness was strongly correlated to well-being and expectations of future effectiveness/success.

The second set of studies found that the frequency of effective engagement was positively correlated to effectiveness (in humans) and negatively correlated to signs of poor welfare (in rats). The third set of studies (in humans and rats) explored the opposing roles that challenges may play in welfare. By providing opportunities to be effective, challenges may enhance welfare. Conversely, by their potential to cause ineffectiveness/failure on any one of the three domains (value, truth, or control), challenges may decrease welfare. In the final set of studies (in rats only), by manipulating engagement opportunities in the homecage, preliminary validity for a novel measure of welfare was demonstrated. These four sets of studies support the engaging in effectiveness model, highlight the role of challenge in welfare/well-being, and suggest new avenues of research in humans and other animals.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Higgins, Edward Tory
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
November 18, 2011