Capturing Animality: An Evolutionary Approach to Animal Attitudes
AuthorSteklis, Netzin Gerald
AdvisorFigueredo, Aurelio Jose
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe purpose of the series of five studies presented in this dissertation is to shed new light on how our long history of interactions with animals has led to the evolution of psychological adaptations structuring our attitudes about animal—that comprise a multivariate latent construct called “Animality”— and to explore the connection between Animality and human personality. Based on interviews with people who work with animals, Study 1 produced an inventory of semantic categories underlying Animality. In Study 2, questionnaire items were developed to represent the Animality semantic categories. The resulting questionnaire was given to 145 undergraduate students, and the results were used to identify a set of 6 reliable parcels on which an Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA) was performed. Two reliable Animality factors emerged that were labelled “Emotional Regard” for and “Attraction” to animals. Using a larger sample of undergraduates (n=979), Study 3 tested the replicability of the EFA using a Confirmatory Factor Analysis. Results showed excellent fit of the data with the Animality structure of Study 2, and produced a structure consisting of a higher order factor—General Factor of Animality (GFA) that influences the previously identified lower order factors. Study 4 tested the hypothesis that human empathy was evolutionarily co-opted to serve animal empathy, with the prediction that, consistent with previous reports in the literature, the two would be correlated. This study analyzed a newly created empathy scale that matched human empathy items with equivalently worded animal empathy items, a personality inventory (IPIP-NEO short version), as well as the previously created Animality items. While respondents’ Animal Empathy and Human Empathy scores were positively correlated, Animal Empathy scores were generally higher than Human Empathy scores. Women had higher overall scores on both Human and Animal Empathy, with most of their scores in the extreme highs with a less consistent association between animal and human empathy, while men’s scores included the extreme lows with a more predictable association between animal and human empathy. Furthermore, in support of the Co-Opting hypothesis those human personality dimensions that measure aspects of human empathy, well predicted the performance on the independent measurements of Human Empathy and Animal Empathy. The 5th and final study demonstrated that Animality and Personality are non-overlapping constructs, and appear as separate factors in an EFA. This last study also examined the direct, indirect and explicit causal relationships between Personality and Animality using Generalized Linear Models and Structural Equation Modeling procedures, including sex as a variable. Results showed that General Factor of Personality (GFP) and sex directly predict GFA, indicating that sex has a direct effect on most Personality and Animality dimensions with females contributing to higher values. When examining the separate contributions of male and female sex to the relationship between GFP and GFA, males were primarily responsible for the correlation between GFP and GFA. In combination with the results of the previous studies, the results of Study 5 further support the co-opting evolutionary hypothesis, while also suggesting additional modifications for women in underlying mechanisms related to human-animal interactions.
Degree ProgramGraduate College