ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202011.0425.v1
Subject: Biology, Anatomy & Morphology Keywords: Empathy; comparative thanatology; cognitive biases; animal ethics; mentaphobia; primates; elephants; birds; robot
Online: 16 November 2020 (14:23:45 CET)
Anthropomorphism is a natural tendency in humans, but it is also influenced by many characteristics of the observer (the human) and the observed entity (here, the animal species). This study asked participants to complete an online questionnaire about three videos showing epimeletic behaviours in three animal species. In the videos, an individual (a sparrow, an elephant and a macaque, respectively) displayed behaviours towards an inanimate conspecific that suddenly regained consciousness at the end of the footage. A fourth video showed a robot dog being kicked by an engineer to demonstrate its stability. Each video was followed by a series of questions designed to evaluate the degree of anthropomorphism of participants, from mentaphobia (no attribution of intentions and beliefs, whatever the animal species) to full anthropomorphism (full attribution of intentions and beliefs by animals, to the same extent as in humans) and to measure how far the participants had correctly assessed each situation in terms of biological reality (current scientific knowledge of each species). There is a negative correlation (about 61%) between the mental states attributed to animals by humans to animals and the real capability of animals. The heterogeneity of responses proved that humans display different forms of anthropomorphism, from rejecting all emotional or intentional states in animals to considering animals to show the same intentions as humans. However, the scores participants attributed to animals differed according to the species shown in the video and to human sociodemographic characteristics. Understanding the potential usefulness of these factors can lead to better relationships with animals and encourage a positive view of human-robot interactions. Indeed, reflective or critical anthropomorphism can increase our humanity.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202008.0711.v1
Subject: Behavioral Sciences, Cognitive & Experimental Psychology Keywords: Empathy; comparative thanatology; cognitive biases; animal ethics; mentaphobia; primates; elephants; birds; robot
Online: 31 August 2020 (06:13:03 CEST)
In this study, we asked participants to answer an online questionnaire about videos showing animal epimeletic behaviours: an individual (a sparrow, an elephant and a macaque) displayed behaviours towards an inanimate conspecific who suddenly got back to conscious at the end of the footage. A fourth video showed a dog-robot kicked by an engineer to demonstrate its stability. After each video, questions were asked to score the degree of anthropomorphism of participants, from mentophobia (no attribution whatever the species) to full anthropomorphism and to measure how close participants are to biological reality (actual scientific knowledge). A first important result is that there is a negative correlation (about 61%) between the anthropomorphism score (AS) and the biological reality one (BRS) showing a wrong statement. The heterogeneity of responses proved that all levels of anthropomorphism are covered from mentaphobia to full anthropomorphism. However, the scores participants attributed to animals differ according to the species shown in the video and to human characteristics. Understanding how one can play with these factors can conduct to better relationships with animals as encourage human-robot interactions. Finally, such reflective anthropomorphism can lead to an increase of human empathy and sociality, finally increasing our humanity.