PETA is one of the most controversial organizations in existence. People love them, hate them, tolerate them, question them. If nothing else, PETA is effective at getting attention and inspiring debate.
Even in Animal Rights communities, this question comes up over and over again:
“Does PETA help or harm the movement?“
It’s a difficult question to answer since PETA does so much and is involved in all kinds of campaigns. Moreover, few people or organizations take the time to measure efficacy. But one organization, The Humane Research Council, whose website is Humane Spot dot org, compiles and analyzes all kinds of information relating to effective strategies of the animal movement.
In their own words,
The Humane Research Council empowers fellow animal advocates with access to the research, analysis, strategies, and messages that maximize their effectiveness to reduce animal suffering.
When it comes to PETA’s efficacy, The Humane Research Council has some information that can help us answer the question above. There are two studies that indicate PETA is effective, at least in some areas.
Take a look:
1. “The U.S. Pork Checkoff (managed by the National Pork Board) conducted four focus groups of children ages 9 to 14 throughout the United States and surveyed an additional 350 children online. More than half of those surveyed had heard of “animal rights” organizations and almost one fourth of these children reported that these organizations have impacted their meat consumption in some way. There was low awareness of PETA among the children, but it had a high impact on their meat consumption. One-third of respondents had heard of or visited the PETA website, petakids.com; of those who were familiar with PETA, one-third had seen a video about animal care or meat consumption. 53% said the web site/video impacted their meat eating habits.” (source)
2. “[Another] study examined the impact of a graphic animal rights campaign launched by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) against alleged abuses on a corporate farm. It considered the impact of the campaign upon the credibility of the target of the campaign as well as the producer of the campaign.
Results indicated that PETA’s attack message against abuses at corporate pig farms was effective in eroding the credibility of the corporate food-industry raising animals for consumption. At the same time, PETA’s credibility rose overall after participants viewed the PETA attack message.” (source)
Neither of those studies indicates that the other PETA programs are effective. It’s even possible that certain campaigns are counter-productive. But the evidence against PETA – on the basis of ineffectiveness – simply doesn’t exist yet. So be wary of “experts” who claim that PETA “doesn’t work” or is “counter-productive.” They are likely basing their opinions on personal bias rather than actual science.