Becca Franks

Becca Franks
New York University | NYU · Department of Environmental Studies

PhD

About

71
Publications
15,148
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1,386
Citations
Additional affiliations
September 2005 - present
Columbia University
Position
  • PostDoc Position

Publications

Publications (71)
Chapter
Full-text available
A surge of interest in cognitive science has revealed unexpectedly impressive cognitive abilities in many species, including many farmed animals such as salmon, cows, and chickens. Along with these discoveries, animal welfare scientists have uncovered evidence suggesting that animals are motivated to exercise their cognitive skills and may suffer w...
Article
Full-text available
Simple Summary Despite increasing interest in fish welfare, we still know very little about positive emotions in fish. This study had two aims: (1) to characterize a previously undescribed social behavior in zebrafish, “heightened-shoaling”, and (2) to evaluate whether heightened-shoaling may be a good candidate for future research into positive em...
Chapter
Human well-being research and animal welfare science are separate fields, yet they share a common question: What makes life worth living? In this chapter, we propose that effectiveness, a new theory of motivation (Higgins, 2012), may provide a common ground for exploring the answer to this question in humans and other animals. The effectiveness app...
Article
Full-text available
Motivation is a central concept for animal welfare; it has inspired methodological breakthroughs and generated a wealth of crucial empirical work. As the field develops beyond its original mandate to alleviate the suffering of animals in intensive farming systems, the assumptions behind the current models of motivation may warrant closer scrutiny....
Article
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Laboratory mice (Mus musculus) are typically housed in simple cages consisting of one open space. These standard cages may thwart mouse ability to segregate resting areas from areas where they eliminate, a behaviour that is prevalent across the animal kingdom. No scientific work has directly tested whether mice engage in such segregation behaviour,...
Article
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In 2018, over nine billion chickens were slaughtered in the United States. As the demand for chickens increases, so too have concerns regarding the welfare of the chickens in these systems and the damage such practices cause to the surrounding ecosystems. To address welfare concerns, there is large-scale interest in raising chickens on pasture and...
Article
Small, tropical fish are popular companion animals and constitute a major proportion of the vertebrates used in scientific research, but little is known about how they are affected by routine husbandry practices. Manual tank cleanings are a common and potentially stressful maintenance procedure that involves siphoning out a substantial volume of ta...
Article
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The unprecedented growth of aquaculture involves well-documented environmental and public-health costs, but less is understood about global animal welfare risks. Integrating data from multiple sources, we estimated the taxonomic diversity of farmed aquatic animals, the number of individuals killed annually, and the species-specific welfare knowledg...
Article
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The study of human–animal interactions has provided insights into the welfare of many species. To date, however, research has largely focused on human relationships with captive mammals, with relatively little exploration of interactions between humans and other vertebrates, despite non-mammals constituting the vast majority of animals currently li...
Article
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Wildlife tourism attractions (WTA) are popular in the United States, but they may be harmful to the individual animals involved and we question whether they provide benefits to environmental conservation. Most research on the welfare and environmental implications of WTAs focuses on charismatic mammals, with few studies investigating these issues f...
Book
Full-text available
Fish welfare in aquaculture – problems and approaches to solutions. Free download: http://www.ign-nutztierhaltung.ch/sites/default/files/Bilder/IGN_FOKUS20_Broschuere_Fischwohl_100Seiter_web.pdf (The English edition will be available in late spring 2021.)
Article
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Simple Summary: Our knowledge of fish welfare is still scant relative to the enormous demands created by aquaculture expansion and focuses primarily on preventing poor health without considering provision of environments conducive to positive experiences. We are far from understanding what individuals of the different species classified under the u...
Article
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One of the challenges of animal cognition research is overcoming anthropocentric sensory biases—in particular, favoring visual information and cues despite the dominance of other sensory cues in many nonhuman research subjects. As such, it is particularly important for animal cognition researchers to explicitly mention steps taken to control for an...
Article
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Treves et al. (2019) make a convincing case that conservation efforts need to go beyond an anthropocentric worldview. Implementing that vision, however, will require human advocates to represent nonhuman interests. Where will the knowledge of those interests come from? How can humans know what is in the best interest of another animal, a plant, or...
Preprint
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This petition is submitted on behalf of the New England Anti-Vivisection Society (NEAVS), a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing animal suffering, and co-petitioners and is requesting action by the Secretary of Health and Human Services and Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Specifically, the petitioners request NIH to ac...
Article
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Our aim was to determine whether individual differences in feeding and social behavior in different social environments affect health outcomes in dairy cows. We used eight groups of four animals per treatment assigned to either a ‘predictable’ or an ‘unpredictable’ and competitive social environment. Predictable cows were given free access to six f...
Article
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Traditional animal welfare paradigms have focused on maintaining physical health and mitigating negative impacts to wellbeing. Recently, however, the field has increasingly recognized the importance of positive welfare (i.e., mental and physical states that exceed what is necessary for immediate survival) and accordingly introduced manipulations an...
Article
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A number of studies have shown widespread public concern over housing animals in ways that restrict their ability to move freely. Dairy cows housed in tie stall barns are tethered continuously or for part of the day, but no study has assessed public support for this type of housing system. We report two experiments assessing public perceptions of t...
Data
Robbins et al Factors Influencing Public Support for Dairy Tie Stall Housing in the US data EXPERIMENT 2 LaTeX Source File (TEX file). (CSV)
Data
Robbins et al Factors Influencing Public Support for Dairy Tie Stall Housing in the U.S. R code. (PDF)
Data
Robbins et al Factors Influencing Public Support for Dairy Tie Stall Housing in the US data EXPERIMENT 1 LaTeX Source File (TEX file). (CSV)
Article
Full-text available
Many scientists studying animal welfare appear to hold a hedonistic concept of welfare -whereby welfare is ultimately reducible to an animal’s subjective experience. The substantial advances in assessing animal’s subjective experience have enabled us to take a step back to consider whether such indicators are all one needs to know if one is interes...
Article
Cognitive stimulation has been shown to be rewarding and capable of eliciting positive emotions in several species. In contrast to the abundant learning and exploration opportunities available in nature, captive environments can be under-stimulating—with the potential to induce anhedonia and reduce welfare. Zebrafish are now a popular scientific mo...
Article
Zebrafish are now one of the most used animal model species in scientific research worldwide. Our current knowledge of wild zebrafish is limited to an estimated range of their natural habitats and their tendencies to form groups. In laboratories, zebrafish are typically housed in situations that differ greatly from their wild conditions. The discon...
Article
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We propose that evaluating a life as meaningful or significant is the outgrowth of a critical human motivation—the motivation to have others verify that what is going on in one’s life, others’ lives, and the world really matters and makes sense. A meaningful life is one that is judged to be “going in the right direction,” with a current life trajec...
Poster
Full-text available
Cognitive stimulation has been shown to be rewarding and capable of eliciting positive emotions in several species. In contrast to the abundant learning and exploration opportunities available in nature, captive environments can be under-stimulating—with the potential to induce anhedonia and reduce welfare. Zebrafish are now a popular scientific mo...
Article
Full-text available
In contrast to a wealth of human studies, little is known about the ontogeny and consistency of empathy-related capacities in other species. Consolation - post-conflict affiliation from uninvolved bystanders to distressed others - is a suggested marker of empathetic concern in non-human animals. Using longitudinal data comprising nearly a decade of...
Article
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It has been argued that the phenomenal self sees the world from an "egocentric" perspective. But then how do we explain why people give up their own time and resources on behalf of others? We propose that one answer to this question can be found in people's subjective experience of motivation to establishing what's real-the phenomenal "truth" self....
Article
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Many dairy cows in the developed world are now housed exclusively indoors with fewer than 5% of the 10 million lactating cows in the United States having access to pasture during the grazing season. Indoor housing systems are designed to meet biological needs for food, water, hygiene, and shelter, but surveys of public and farmer opinion suggest th...
Article
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Fish are capable of excellent vision and can be profoundly influenced by the visual properties of their environment. Ambient colours have been found to affect growth, survival, aggression and reproduction, but the effect of background darkness (i.e., the darkness vs. lightness of the background) on preference and aggression has not been evaluated s...
Article
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Past research has shown that satisfying different kinds of fundamental motives contributes to well-being. More recently, advances in motivational theory have shown that z is also tied to the integration of different motives. In other words, well-being depends not only on maximizing effectiveness in satisfying specific motives, but also on ensuring...
Article
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Modelling complex social behavior in the laboratory is challenging and requires analyses of dyadic interactions occurring over time in a physically and socially complex environment. In the current study, we approached the analyses of complex social interactions in group-housed male CD1 mice living in a large vivarium. Intensive observations of soci...
Article
Maternal care experienced during postnatal development predicts long-term neurobiological and behavioral outcomes. However, the cascade of behavioral changes that emerge in response to maternal care has not been elucidated. In the current study, we examine naturally occurring variation in postnatal licking/grooming (LG) in C57BL/6J mice to determin...
Article
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Beyond a hedonic model of the good life—approach pleasure and avoid pain— evidence is accumulating across species that well-being depends on potentially painful goal pursuit processes, like effort, engagement, and discovery. We hypothesized that daily challenges may provide a unique opportunity to fulfill such processes and that challenges would be...
Article
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Scarcity has been found to intensify value, positive or negative, rather than simply enhancing it. Some researchers have proposed that scarcity affects value by increasing how much attention is paid to a stimulus. We conceptualized sustained attention as stronger engagement and operationalized a situation of scarcity by telling participants who wer...
Chapter
Full-text available
Motivation lies at the heart of any inquiry into “happiness” or “the good life.” Historically, the dominant perspective on “happiness” or “the good life” treats them as the maximization of pleasure and the minimization of pain. This point of view, however, has come under increasing criticism among positive psychologists, and in this chapter we comp...
Article
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The hedonic principle-the desire to approach pleasure and avoid pain-is frequently presumed to be the fundamental principle upon which motivation is built. In the past few decades, researchers have enriched our understanding of how approaching pleasure and avoiding pain differ from each other. However, more recent empirical and theoretical work del...
Article
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As animal personality research becomes more central to the study of animal behavior, there is increasing need for theoretical frameworks addressing its causes and consequences. We propose that regulatory focus theory (RFT) could serve as one such framework while also providing insights into how animal personality relates to welfare. RFT distinguish...
Article
In recent years, the presence of stable individual variation in animal behaviour has been corroborated by studies across a wide variety of taxa and research disciplines. Reconciliation, or postconflict affiliation between former opponents, is a behavioural domain in which individual differences have not been systematically studied. Using a long-ter...
Article
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We propose that a comparative approach to well-being could be the key to understanding 'the good life.' Inspired by current theories of human well-being and animal welfare, we designed a novel test of exploration behavior. Environmentally and socially enriched Long-Evans female rats (N = 60) were trained in four simultaneously presented arms of an...
Article
Our research tested two predictions regarding how likelihood can have motivational effects as a function of how a probability is expressed. We predicted that describing the probability of a future event that could be either A or B using the language of high likelihood ("80% A") rather than low likelihood ("20% B"), i.e., high rather than low expres...
Article
Evidence is mounting that personality is associated with health and well-being in humans and other animals. In a step towards increasing our understanding of this link, we applied regulatory focus theory, a motivational perspective from social psychology, to the behavior of zoo-housed cotton top tamarins. We tested whether regulatory focus "persona...
Article
We examine how self-regulatory motivations of locomotion (initiation) and assessment (evaluation) are related to retirement wealth in middle-aged and older Americans. We test a hypothesis that high locomotion and some assessment levels predict high wealth levels. We use two national data sets: the 2008 Health and Retirement Study (N = 6,464) and th...
Article
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Bisphenol A (BPA) is an estrogenic endocrine disruptor widely used in the production of plastics. Increasing evidence indicates that in utero BPA exposure affects sexual differentiation and behavior; however, the mechanisms underlying these effects are unknown. We hypothesized that BPA may disrupt epigenetic programming of gene expression in the br...
Article
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Paternal environmental experiences are significant predictors of developmental outcomes in offspring and can occur even in the absence of paternal care. Although there has been a recent focus on the role of environmentally induced changes in the male germline in producing these effects, the potential mediating role of mothers has not been investiga...
Article
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Regulatory focus (Higgins, 1997) builds on the classic approach-avoidance distinction by identifying two important approach orientations: the promotion focus (approaching gains and attainment) and the prevention focus (approaching nonlosses and safety). Though individual differences in regulatory focus have been widely studied in human psychology,...
Article
The relationship between anxiety and maternal behavior has been explored across species using a variety of approaches, yet there is no clear consensus on the nature or direction of this relationship. In the current study, we have assessed stable individual differences in anxiety-like behavior in a large cohort (n=57) of female F2 hybrid mice. Using...
Chapter
Full-text available
The assessment of variations in maternal behavior in laboratory rodents is challenging yet may provide an essential tool for understanding the mechanisms linking early life experiences to individual differences in stress responsivity and behavioral indices of depression and anxiety. In this chapter, the methodology for characterizing the quality an...
Article
To review the theory and research evidence suggesting that tailored interactive multimedia computer programs (IMCPs) aimed at optimizing patient health behaviors could lessen socio-demographic health disparities. Selective critical review of research regarding IMCPs tailored to psychological mediators of behavior and their effects on health behavio...
Article
Full-text available
Though some research exists concerning general behavior and activity patterns of Walruses in zoos or aquariums, less is known about how these patterns change in response to various environmental and temporal contexts. This study presents two studies assessing behavioral changes in relation to feeding period, object enrichment (OE), and season in a...
Article
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Morality is a concept that is based on value judgments of “right” or “wrong” and “good” and “bad”. Three language-competent apes (two bonobos and a chimpanzee) are shown to use the symbols “good” and “bad” in appropriate contexts and to co-construct these values with the humans in their environment, indicating that the specific expression of value...