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Children's Perceptions of Friendliness Based on Physical Appearance in Humans and Canines

By Elizabeth B. Seagroves

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Physical appearance serves as a window to one's character. More specifically, faces give us clues to an individual's emotional state, personality, and behavior. The present study aims to draw parallels between what existing literature reveals about the physical characteristics humans use to describe other humans and what physical characteristics children tend to use when characterizing canines. A sample of 105 children in grades pre-Kindergarten to third grade were asked to view photographs of 14 dogs differing in size, color, breed, and other physical aspects. Participants rated the dogs on a scale from very friendly to very unfriendly based on physical attributes and were then asked to elaborate on the rating of each photograph. Similarities were found in the physical characteristics used by children to characterize humans according to existing literature and canines in the current study. Humans tend to utilize facial features when characterizing other humans, and the results from the current study reveal that humans also use facial features, particularly the eyes and mouth, to characterize canines followed by the ears and tail. The results give insight into physical characteristics that may influence a child to approach an unfamiliar dog.  


Mason N McLary

HABRI Central

Date 2011
Pages 54
Publisher East Carolina University
Location of Publication Greenville, North Carolina
Degree Child Development and Family Relations
Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal-assisted activities
  2. Animal-assisted therapies
  3. Animal roles
  4. Animals in culture
  5. Behavioral research
  6. Canine
  7. Children
  8. Development
  9. Dogs
  10. friendliness
  11. Health
  12. Mammals
  13. perceptions
  14. Social Environments