Anthropomorphism as a conservation tool

Abstract

Anthropomorphism has the potential to aid conservation biologist conserve target species by developing empathy among the public, effectively promoting considerate practice. There is a stigma associated with anthropomorphism in research because it often precludes unbiased data and compromises fact based results. However, I propose that anthropomorphism can be a means to accomplish the goals of conservation and management. Developing public support has been notoriously difficult, but encouraging anthropomorphism (i.e., attributing human characteristics to nonhuman animals) could help conservation biologists develop more empathy toward target species. Highlighting research that promotes animals as being similar to humans could cause the public to exhibit more conservation considerate practices. Therefore, anthropomorphism should be encouraged when appropriate.

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I declare no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Alvin A. Y.-H. Chan.

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Chan, A.A.Y. Anthropomorphism as a conservation tool. Biodivers Conserv 21, 1889–1892 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-012-0274-6

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Keywords

  • Conservation management
  • Empathy
  • Public support
  • Awareness