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Human Attitude toward Reptiles: A Relationship between Fear, Disgust, and Aesthetic Preferences

By Markéta Janovcová, Silvie Rádlová, Jakub Polák, Kristýna Sedláˇcková, Šárka Peléšková, Barbora Žampachová, Daniel Frynta, Eva Landová

Category Journal Articles

Focusing on one group of animals can bring interesting results regarding our attitudes toward them and show the key features that our evaluation of such animals is based on. Thus, we designed a study of human perception of all reptiles focusing on the relationship between perceived fear, disgust, and aesthetic preferences and differences between snakes and other reptiles. Two sets containing 127 standardized photos of reptiles were developed, with one species per each subfamily. Respondents were asked to rate the animals according to fear, disgust, and beauty on a seven-point Likert scale. Evaluation of reptile species shows that people tend to perceive them as two clearly distinct groups based on their similar morphotype. In a subset of lizards, there was a positive correlation between fear and disgust, while disgust and fear were both negatively correlated with beauty. Surprisingly, a positive correlation between fear and beauty of snakes was revealed, i.e., the most feared species also tend to be perceived as beautiful. Snakes represent a distinct group of animals that is also reflected in the theory of attentional prioritization of snakes as an evolutionary relevant threat.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2019
Publication Title Animals
Volume 9
Issue 5
Pages 17
Publisher MDPI
DOI 10.3390/ani9050238
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Attitudes about animals
  3. Disgust
  4. Emotions
  5. Fear
  6. open access
  7. Reptiles
  1. open access