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... 51). Even if definitions may differ on "what" precisely is attributed to the "non-human things and events, " there seems to be a consensus on the fact that anthropomorphism is a specific case of inference of something human to a nonhuman entity (Fisher, 1991;Herzog and Galvin, 1997;Silverman, 1997). In this perspective, anthropomorphism rests upon a cognitive work of inference. ...
... As long as it is defined as the (decontextualized) attribution of human qualities to animals, anthropomorphism can be empirically studied through questionnaires asking people to attribute more or less complex cognitive and emotional states to animals. The first empirical studies of anthropomorphism ( ; Herzog and Galvin, 1997) used this method and asked subjects to rate different animal species according to their supposed cognitive and emotional abilities. The results were rather convergent. ...
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The attribution of human traits to non-humans - animals, artifacts or even natural events - is an attitude, deeply grounded in human mind. It is frequent to see children addressing dolls and figures as if they were alive. Adults often attribute mental states and emotions to animals. In everyday life humans speak of events such as fires as if they possessed some form of intentionality, a behavior sometimes shared also by scientists. Furthermore, a systematized form of anthropomorphism underlies most religions. The pervasiveness of this phenomenon makes it a particularly interesting object of psychological enquiry. Psychologists have set out to understand which aspects of human mind are involved in this behavior, its motivations and the circumstances favoring its enactment. Moreover, there is an ongoing debate among scientists about the merits or harm of anthropomorphism in the scientific study of animal behavior and in scientific discourse. Despite the interest and the specificity of the topic most of the relevant studies are scattered across disciplines and have not built a systematic research framework. This observation has motivated the collection of articles presented here, under the unifying perspective of the cognitive underpinnings of anthropomorphism. Within this general umbrella, the authors included in this e-book have explored the issues mentioned above from different points of view. From their work it emerges that far from being the result of naive beliefs, the exercise of anthropomorphism involves a multiplicity of mental abilities including perception and imagination. They also show that the context and the interactive situation are crucial to understanding this phenomenon. Some authors analyze the relationship between anthropomorphization and theory of mind abilities both in typical and atypical populations. Finally, others contributions have identified possible benefits deriving from the natural attitude to anthropomorphize, as a design philosophy for robots and artifacts in general, or as a useful heuristic in the scientific study of animal behavior.
... Some studies find that people support animal use in research less if those animals are perceived as having "higher" mental abilities that enable them to use tools, solve problems, and be self-aware (Herzog & Galvin, 1997;Knight & Barnett, 2008)abilities all revealed by scientific study including comparative psychology research in the past century. Indeed, of all animal species, humans rate nonhuman primates (i.e., apes and monkeys) as having life experiences and cognitive abilities that are most similar to those of humans (Eddy et al., 1993). ...
This year marks the 100th anniversary since the inception of the original Journal of Comparative Psychology. This review highlights the evolution of Journal of Comparative Psychology and the field of comparative psychology over the past century through the lens of the field's contributions in the realms of science practice, science policy, and public opinion. The review culminates with a look ahead to the next 100 years, with both challenges that are likely to remain as well as potential paths to continue growth and success. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
... Research suggests that women, younger individuals, and prior experience or familiarity with animals, especially pets, promote greater acceptance of cognitive abilities in nonhuman animals (e.g., Hawkins & William, 2016;Kupsala et al., 2016;Maust-Mohl et al., 2012;McGrath et al., 2013;Morris et al., 2012). Other studies evaluating BAM suggest that species perceived to be more similar to humans on the hypothetical phylogenetic scale, such as large mammals, are considered more advanced and thus tend to be assigned more cognitive abilities (e.g., Cornish et al., 2016;Driscoll, 1995;Eddy et al., 1993;Herzog & Galvin, 1997;Nakajima et al., 2002). Yet, this is not true for all mammals as some evidence indicates that rodents and agricultural/food animals tend to be perceived as less smart or sentient (e.g., Bastian et al., 2012;Davis & Cheeke, 1998;Hawkins & William, 2016). ...
Animals play a large role in society, yet attitudes about animals vary widely depending on individual differences in age, gender, experience with animals, and culture. The purpose of this study was to examine which factors, particularly geographic location, may influence college students’ overall attitudes toward animal use. College students (n = 297), age ranged from 18–54 years (M = 19.88, SD = 2.89), from urban and rural schools in the US completed a survey that included demographics questions, the Animal Attitudes Scale (AAS), and the Belief in Animal Mind (BAM) scale. We predicted differences between urban and rural students’ scores on the AAS and BAM scales and anticipated other factors, such as prior experience with animals, would positively influence students’ responses. We also predicted that pro-animal welfare attitudes would be associated with the BAM. Scores on the AAS (M = 3.41, SD = 0.59) and BAM (M = 5.08, SD = 1.01) scales were positively related and suggested support for animal welfare and thinking. Our findings revealed that currently living in and growing up in rural areas significantly lowered AAS scores, while growing up in rural areas lowered BAM scores. Exploration of several demographic variables showed female students and those reporting experience with pets and service animals had higher AAS scores; BAM scores were higher for females and students with only service animal experience. However, experience with animals for hunting resulted in lower AAS scores. In addition, students using newspapers/magazines to learn about animals had higher AAS scores, and those visiting natural history museums had higher BAM scores. These results suggest several underlying cultural factors that shape college students’ attitudes and beliefs about animals and the human–animal connection. Future studies should continue to investigate the influence of these and other factors on attitudes toward animal use and perceptions of animal thinking.
... Two studies analysed mind attribution to animals by adapting the Attributes Questionnaire (Herzog and Galvin, 1997), which the authors validated through factor analysis and has been shown to have high internal consistence (α = 0.94; e.g., Díaz, 2016). Riepe and Arlinghaus (2014; "Good" quality) analysed mind attribution to nine animals (collapsed across all species) by assessing beliefs in these animals' capacity to feel fear, pain, and suffering, and did not find support for mind attribution's association with attitudes toward recreational fishing. ...
It is taken for granted that anthropomorphising non-human species promotes pro-environmental attitudes and behaviours, but the literature appears to be conflicted on this topic. There is also little discussion in the literature as to whether there are different types of anthropomorphism that may be particularly associated with pro-environmental attitudes and behaviours. This is the first systematic review to address the hypothesis that there is a significant association between anthropomorphism of nature and pro-environmental variables, and that anthropomorphism has a beneficial causal role. This review synthesises results from 25 studies (18 correlational; seven experimental) in addressing this hypothesis, weighting its conclusions by an appraisal of study quality. This review presents evidence from high quality studies that mind attribution to non-human entities is consistently associated with pro-environmental variables, and that inducing anthropomorphic perceptions of non-human entities can generate pro-environmental outcomes in some circumstances. The authors also summarise the highest-quality evidence with regard to the possible mediators of the relationship between anthropomorphism and pro-environmental variables, and consider the findings through the lens of the theory of planned behaviour (Ajzen, 1991). The implications of the findings for future research and conservation campaigns are discussed alongside a note of caution about the limitations and potential disadvantages of anthropomorphism.
... The recent increased public concern regarding the welfare of animals may be at least partially linked to greater recognition of women's rights and attitudes. Furthermore, Serpell [36] found that -the most important trends detected thus far are that women tend to show stronger affective and weaker utility orientation to animals than men‖ [7,21,26,32,33,37,43] . ...
As incidences of human–wildlife interaction escalate, it is useful to increase understanding of the perceptions that might underpin these interactions or explain human behavior so associated. This study sought to identify public perceptions of the animal mind across wildlife species and to examine how states or qualities such as conscious thinking and feeling are perceived. We also aimed to evaluate whether people anthropomorphize species as readily as is often postulated. Using an online survey of 2,342 participants from the United States, we characterized perceptions of 36 wildlife species. In doing so, we also sought to stabilize inconsistent terminology in previous animal mind studies, by characterizing and measuring attributions of two specific traits, which we categorized as “cognitive” and “emotive.” We found that people differentiate between cognitive traits (intellectual traits) and emotive traits (experiential, emotional states). Contrary to some past studies as well as popular assumptions, cognitive traits were ascribed more frequently than emotive traits for all animals. In addition, different animal classes were perceived as having varying levels of capacity of both traits. Mammals were ranked highest on qualities that defined both traits, followed by birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish. The ranges within class also varied. Our findings provide new insights on how the public view the mental capabilities of wildlife species. The study further suggests that perceptions regarding the cognitive ability of animals may be higher than previously believed and that emotive traits may not be as notable as traditionally assumed. Elucidating these points may contribute to further progress in wildlife discussions and conservation strategies.
Public concern for farm animal welfare is increasing in the UK, as is evidenced by recent legislation. Calls have been made to enhance awareness of food, farming, and farm animal welfare among school children, yet educators have very little research available to aid meaningful design of farm animal welfare education. Our research used an interdisciplinary approach to investigate Scottish children’s welfare knowledge of and perspectives on farm animals. The study set out to explore: a) children’s knowledge of the welfare needs of cows, lambs, and chickens, b) beliefs about farm animal sentience, the extent to which children empathized with farm animals, and d) the impact of first-hand experience on attitudes toward farm animals. Data were collected from six focus groups; there were interviews with children aged 6 to 11 years and these allowed both developmental and gender comparisons. While children were not indifferent to the welfare and treatment of farm animals, the study identified very large gaps in their knowledge of the welfare needs of farm animals. While children endorsed animal sentience and readily took the perspective of cows, chickens, and sheep, empathy was cognitive rather than affective. Most children had had little contact with farm animals and perceived of them in a more abstract way than they did pet animals. Our study highlights the potential of direct interaction with farm animals to enhance children’s welfare concern and compassion for farm animals. Findings also identified an interest in discussing the ethical aspects of killing animals for human consumption among children aged 10 years and older.
Adult attitudes toward animals have received extensive research attention. By contrast, despite the importance of child–animal interactions for children’s development and animal welfare, children’s attitudes toward animals have not been fully explored. The aim of this study was, therefore, to examine Spanish children’s attitudes toward animals. A 12-item scale, the Brief Attitudes Towards Animals scale for Children (BATAC), was designed and completed by 416 Spanish primary school children aged between 6 and 13 years. Analyses revealed that the attitude scale had very good internal consistency (Cronbach’s a = 0.75; Revelle’s omega = 0.75; Sijtsma’s glb = 0.84) and three factors labelled “Compassion,” “Friendship,” and “Opinion on Ownership” explained 56.47% of the variance. The subscales were used in subsequent analyses alongside the total score. Demographic variables, such as age, school year group, ownership of a companion animal, and children’s beliefs about animal mind, were shown to be associated with children’s attitudes toward animals. Being older, in a higher school year, having a dog or a small mammal at home, and scoring animals higher on sentience capabilities were associated with higher pro-animal attitudes. Other pet types (i.e., cats, birds, reptiles or fish) and children’s gender were not associated with attitudes to animals. This study is the first to explore attitudes toward animals among Spanish primary school children, and it highlights attitudinal differences regarding animal species and child demographic variables.
Associations between animal maltreatment 1 and other antisocial behaviors, such as aggression and interpersonal violence, have been well documented in research on children, adolescents, and adults (Ascione et al. 2018 ; Felthouse and Bernard 1979 ; Tapia 1971). The clinical significance of animal maltreatment behaviors as an indicator of maladjustment was formally recognized in the revised third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders ( DSM ) in 1987, in the DSM-III-R ( American Psychiatric Association 1987 ), which included animal cruelty as a symptom of conduct disorder. Later editions of the DSM (IV, IV-TR, 5; American Psychiatric Association 1994 , 2000 , 2013 ) retained children’s physical cruelty to animals in a set of indicators of conduct disorder labeled, “aggression to people and animals”; other behaviors in this category included physical fighting, use of a weapon to inflict harm on others, and bullying ( Ascione et al. 2018 ; Signal et al. 2013 ). Since the inclusion of animal cruelty as a symptom of conduct disorder in the DSM , relations between human and nonhuman animal-related violence have received increasing attention in the research literature. In particular, associations between psychological disorders, crime, and animal maltreatment have been the focus of significant research ( Ascione et al. 2018 ). This chapter provides an overview of current empirical knowledge on the intersection of violence toward people and nonhuman animals to highlight sociological factors and affective processes that may play a role in associations between animal maltreatment and interpersonal violence. In particular, we highlight literature on adverse family environments (violent households) to illustrate various factors that may be involved in the onset, maintenance, and intergenerational transmission of these antisocial behaviors. The chapter concludes with an overview and discussion of the practical implications of research in this area, current gaps in knowledge, and opportunities for future research.
Across a 15-year period, annual cohorts of first-year veterinary science students (n = 1,380; 77% female) at a British university completed the Belief in Animal Sentience (BiAS) questionnaire, in which they reported their beliefs about the sentience (capacity to feel) of ten species: dogs, cats, lions, pigs, sheep, rats, rabbits, chickens, bees, and spiders. On the basis of previous findings regarding people’s beliefs about animals’ capacities for mind, it was hypothesized that female students would ascribe more human-like sentience to animals than would male students. It was also hypothesized that the proportion of female students in each of the cohorts studied would have an influence on the beliefs of the year group as a whole: cohorts comprising a larger percentage of women would have higher animal sentience beliefs in both males and females. The data were analyzed using two-level regression models to concurrently investigate the effects of individual respondents’ gender and the percentage of female students in their cohort. Compared with their male counterparts, female veterinary students across all the cohorts studied attributed significantly higher (more human-like) sentience to each of the ten animals listed in the BiAS questionnaire, but the percentage of female students in each year group was not associated with students’ sentience beliefs. It was also found that childhood experience of having owned pet cats or dogs was related to students’ beliefs about the sentience of these species, although this association did not contribute to the differences found between male and female respondents. Given the increasing number of women entering the veterinary profession, and previous findings that beliefs about animals’ capacities for sentience may be associated with the veterinary care they are given, we conclude that gender differences in sentience beliefs could have a significant impact on the future of veterinary practice and patient welfare.
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