Laurent Bègue-Shankland

Animals and Us Our Emotions, Our Prejudices, Our Contradictions Publication date : February 23, 2022

Laurent Bègue-Shankland is professor of social psychology at the Université Grenoble Alpes and a member of the Institut Universitaire de France. A guest researcher at Stanford University, he is currently head of the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme Alpes (CNRS/UGA) [scientific research facility, part of the Centre national de la recherche scientifique – National Center for Scientific Research – and the Université Grenoble Alpes].
He is the author of La Psychologie du bien et du mal [The Psychology of Good and Evil], published in 2011.

Understanding our behavior with animals
At a time when humanity is reconsidering its place in the living world, this book looks at our relationships of dominance with and affection for animals. In a vast panorama filled with the latest scientific work, Laurent Bègue-Shankland reveals the paradoxes of our behaviors and our thinking vis-à-vis animals. He dissects our voluntary ambivalence and blindness, but also our refusal to make animals pure instruments for our own use.

Through a series of experiments (modeled on the famous experiment by Stanley Milgram) in which ordinary men and women were progressively led to sacrifice a lab animal (in reality a robot), the author reveals the hidden side of a unique study that analyzes anew humans’ submission to scientific authority. Confronted with a painful behavioral dilemma, some people will suppress their empathy in the name of the superior goals of their species, whereas others will refuse to sacrifice an animal for science. Who are they? How do they justify their actions? Through which influences can their behavior be explained?

A gripping look into the heart of our affective and utilitarian relationships with animals.