In this study, the way people perceive animals and how this perception affects human empathy toward animals were examined. Participants were 92 college students, with a mean age of 23.3 years. Stimuli consisted of a scenario concerning the status of a hypothetically endangered species as well as a pictorial rating of cute and non-cute primates and non-primate mammals. Results showed that participants felt more empathy toward animals that were both cute and primates. Primates possessing less than three cuteness features were rated as more similar to humans than primates possessing more than three cuteness features. However, both of these stimuli groups were rated as more similar to humans than the non-primate mammals. Empathy scores may have been high due to the considerable amount of animal-related experience that the participants reported. Human perception of animals may be important to the efforts to save endangered species.
"Perception of Species Cuteness and Similarity to Self: The Willingness to Assist Endangered Species,"
FSU Journal of Behavioral Sciences:
1, Article 5.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.framingham.edu/journal_of_behavioral_sciences/vol3/iss1/5