Why do we like or dislike animals?

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54 Citations (Scopus)


Animals are strong emotional triggers for us. The goal of this article is to identify causes and mechanisms that constitute liking or disliking animals. By combining deductions from emotion theory with empirical findings, six categories of causes can be distinguished: (1) an innate sensitivity for biological movement, (2) inherited quick learning programs to respond emotionally to some animals, (3) mental dispositions to respond emotionally to animals that result from conditioning, (4) an innate tendency to react emotionally to the emotional expressions of animals, (5) acquired knowledge about animals that influences the way we interpret an automatic bodily emotional reaction to an animal into a conscious experience, and (6) acquired knowledge about animals that can turn on emotional reactions to animals. Because emotions play a central role in the economy of the individual, the study of emotional responses may greatly enhance our understanding of the human dimensions of wildlife in general
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
JournalHuman Dimensions of Wildlife
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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