Effects of Providing Information About Common Bottlenose Dolphins’ (Tursiops truncatus) Behavior on Anthropomorphic Responses

Abstract: Many people believe that there are other living beings in our world that can experience the same emotions and feelings as we do, including love, compassion, pain, heartbreak, and sadness. Due to the tendency for people to use their own self-concept to understand a nonhuman agent (i.e., to anthropomorphize it), the present study tested whether there is a difference in anthropomorphic responses from participants exposed to either a narrated or non-narrated video of dolphins interacting under human care. Epley et al. (2008) suggest that transforming the perception of a nonhuman agent into a human one through anthropomorphic thinking can fulfill a basic need for understanding, control, and predictability. Therefore, this study also explored if anthropomorphic responses would be moderated by the basic need for understanding, control, and predictability (i.e., effectance motivation). One hundred and thirty one college students watched either a narrated or non-narrated video of five male dolphins interacting under human care and completed surveys that measured their anthropomorphic responses before and after watching the video, as well as their level of effectance motivation. Participants in the narrated condition anthropomorphized less than participants in the non-narrated condition, but effectance motivation did not predict anthropomorphizing. These findings can be useful in zoo or aquarium settings for designing animal interaction programs or narrations of animal presentations.
Key Words: anthropomorphism, education, bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops truncatus, aquarium settings, effectance motivation
Document Type: Research Article
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1578/AM.43.4.2017.409
Page Numbers: 409-416

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