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Impact of visual context on public perceptions of non-human primate performers.

Leighty KA, Valuska AJ, Grand AP, Bettinger TL, Mellen JD, Ross SR, Boyle P, Ogden JJ - PLoS ONE (2015)

Bottom Line: Prior research has shown that the use of apes, specifically chimpanzees, as performers in the media negatively impacts public attitudes of their conservation status and desirability as a pet, yet it is unclear whether these findings generalize to other non-human primates (specifically non-ape species).Viewing the primate in an anthropomorphic setting while in contact with a person significantly increased their desirability as a pet, which also correlated with increased likelihood of believing the animal was not endangered.The majority of viewers felt that the primates in all tested images were "nervous." When shown in contact with a human, viewers felt they were "sad" and "scared", while also being less "funny." Our findings highlight the potential broader implications of the use of non-human primate performers by the entertainment industry.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Disney's Animals, Science and Environment, Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830, United States of America.

ABSTRACT
Prior research has shown that the use of apes, specifically chimpanzees, as performers in the media negatively impacts public attitudes of their conservation status and desirability as a pet, yet it is unclear whether these findings generalize to other non-human primates (specifically non-ape species). We evaluated the impact of viewing an image of a monkey or prosimian in an anthropomorphic or naturalistic setting, either in contact with or in the absence of a human. Viewing the primate in an anthropomorphic setting while in contact with a person significantly increased their desirability as a pet, which also correlated with increased likelihood of believing the animal was not endangered. The majority of viewers felt that the primates in all tested images were "nervous." When shown in contact with a human, viewers felt they were "sad" and "scared", while also being less "funny." Our findings highlight the potential broader implications of the use of non-human primate performers by the entertainment industry.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

The proportion of respondents who described the primate using the trait when presented with a photo of the primate with or without a human present, averaged across the natural and office settings.
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pone.0118487.g001: The proportion of respondents who described the primate using the trait when presented with a photo of the primate with or without a human present, averaged across the natural and office settings.

Mentions: In the final question of the survey, people were asked to circle words that they thought best described the animal in the image and were given the options of “happy, sad, scared, funny, nervous, dangerous.” The most frequent response given regardless of setting and species (> 65%) was that people felt the primate appeared “nervous,” which is important for the advertising and entertainment industry to consider since they are often utilizing these animals as performers for added humor and product likeability (see Fig. 1). Further analysis demonstrated that the presence of a human in the photo significantly increased the proportion of respondents who indicated the primates looked scared (X2 = 34.61, df = 1, p < 0.001) and sad (X2 = 8.11, df = 1, p = 0.004) and decreased the proportion who indicated the primates looked nervous (X2 = 4.83, df = 1, p = 0.028), funny (X2 = 10.57, df = 1, p = 0.001), happy (X2 = 32.02, df = 1, p < 0.001), and dangerous (X2 = 4.76, df = 1, p = 0.029) (see Fig. 1). Therefore, utilizing a primate in conjunction with human actors (regardless of context) appears to have negative impacts on the perceptions and experience of the viewing audience. Further, more people felt the primate was “happy” when shown in the absence of people, and particularly so when depicted in a naturalistic forest habitat, which may reflect public desire for these animals to remain in a natural habitat away from direct human contact. Finally, people were most likely to feel the primate to be “dangerous” when shown in a natural setting with no human present. Thus in that context, people correctly perceive it to be a wild animal, but when placed in contact with people or in an anthropomorphic environment, the animal seemingly becomes less threatening. This has important public safety implications in that people may falsely believe primates they encounter as pets or performers are safe to handle and do not pose the same risks as one encountered in the wild.


Impact of visual context on public perceptions of non-human primate performers.

Leighty KA, Valuska AJ, Grand AP, Bettinger TL, Mellen JD, Ross SR, Boyle P, Ogden JJ - PLoS ONE (2015)

The proportion of respondents who described the primate using the trait when presented with a photo of the primate with or without a human present, averaged across the natural and office settings.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4340917&req=5

pone.0118487.g001: The proportion of respondents who described the primate using the trait when presented with a photo of the primate with or without a human present, averaged across the natural and office settings.
Mentions: In the final question of the survey, people were asked to circle words that they thought best described the animal in the image and were given the options of “happy, sad, scared, funny, nervous, dangerous.” The most frequent response given regardless of setting and species (> 65%) was that people felt the primate appeared “nervous,” which is important for the advertising and entertainment industry to consider since they are often utilizing these animals as performers for added humor and product likeability (see Fig. 1). Further analysis demonstrated that the presence of a human in the photo significantly increased the proportion of respondents who indicated the primates looked scared (X2 = 34.61, df = 1, p < 0.001) and sad (X2 = 8.11, df = 1, p = 0.004) and decreased the proportion who indicated the primates looked nervous (X2 = 4.83, df = 1, p = 0.028), funny (X2 = 10.57, df = 1, p = 0.001), happy (X2 = 32.02, df = 1, p < 0.001), and dangerous (X2 = 4.76, df = 1, p = 0.029) (see Fig. 1). Therefore, utilizing a primate in conjunction with human actors (regardless of context) appears to have negative impacts on the perceptions and experience of the viewing audience. Further, more people felt the primate was “happy” when shown in the absence of people, and particularly so when depicted in a naturalistic forest habitat, which may reflect public desire for these animals to remain in a natural habitat away from direct human contact. Finally, people were most likely to feel the primate to be “dangerous” when shown in a natural setting with no human present. Thus in that context, people correctly perceive it to be a wild animal, but when placed in contact with people or in an anthropomorphic environment, the animal seemingly becomes less threatening. This has important public safety implications in that people may falsely believe primates they encounter as pets or performers are safe to handle and do not pose the same risks as one encountered in the wild.

Bottom Line: Prior research has shown that the use of apes, specifically chimpanzees, as performers in the media negatively impacts public attitudes of their conservation status and desirability as a pet, yet it is unclear whether these findings generalize to other non-human primates (specifically non-ape species).Viewing the primate in an anthropomorphic setting while in contact with a person significantly increased their desirability as a pet, which also correlated with increased likelihood of believing the animal was not endangered.The majority of viewers felt that the primates in all tested images were "nervous." When shown in contact with a human, viewers felt they were "sad" and "scared", while also being less "funny." Our findings highlight the potential broader implications of the use of non-human primate performers by the entertainment industry.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Disney's Animals, Science and Environment, Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830, United States of America.

ABSTRACT
Prior research has shown that the use of apes, specifically chimpanzees, as performers in the media negatively impacts public attitudes of their conservation status and desirability as a pet, yet it is unclear whether these findings generalize to other non-human primates (specifically non-ape species). We evaluated the impact of viewing an image of a monkey or prosimian in an anthropomorphic or naturalistic setting, either in contact with or in the absence of a human. Viewing the primate in an anthropomorphic setting while in contact with a person significantly increased their desirability as a pet, which also correlated with increased likelihood of believing the animal was not endangered. The majority of viewers felt that the primates in all tested images were "nervous." When shown in contact with a human, viewers felt they were "sad" and "scared", while also being less "funny." Our findings highlight the potential broader implications of the use of non-human primate performers by the entertainment industry.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus