In this study we analyzed the attitudes toward different animals in 210 Portuguese children: 107 boys and 103 girls, aged between 8 and 10 years, attending the 3rd and 4th years of primary school. We used a questionnaire with two distinct parts. In the first part, the children were asked about the degree to which they liked 25 different animals, using a scale ranging from -7 (strongly dislike) to 7 (like very much), and to give their reasons for the value attributed. In the second part, they were asked whether in the event of the animals being threatened with extinction, it would be important to save any of them. We also asked for the reasons for their opinion. The most popular animals were big mammals and also birds. Certain gender differences were present, with boys preferring predators and other animals with a traditionally bad image, like bats and sharks. The most disliked animals were insects, but also those that were thought of as a danger to humans. However, we found a moderate positive correlation between liking and saving an animal, although this was lower in the case of the girls toward several animals. This shows that a negative perception of an animal does not always mean a negative attitude toward it. In part, the reasons for liking an animal were different from the reasons for saving it. All the results are important for the design of primary school teaching activities involving animals, including the fact that some reasons that the children gave revealed a lack of knowledge about the meaning of certain behaviors of the animals and of their ecological role.
|Author Address||Lisbon Higher School of Education, Center of Geology, Oporto University, Porto, Portugal.firstname.lastname@example.org|
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