Understanding adolescents' categorisation of animal species
Categorisations are a means of investigating cognitive maps. The present study, for the first time, investigates adolescents’ spontaneous categorisation of 34 animal species. Furthermore, explicit evaluations of 16 selected animals in terms of their perceived utility and likeability were analysed. 105 British adolescents, 54% female, mean age 14.5 (SD = 1.6) participated in the study. Results of multidimensional scaling (MDS) techniques indicate 3-dimensional data representation regardless of gender or age. Property fittings show that affect and perceived utility of animals explain two of the MDS dimensions, and hence partly explain adolescents’ categorisation. Additionally, hierarchical cluster analyses show a differentiation between farm animals, birds, pet animals, and wild animals possibly explaining MDS dimension 3. The results suggest that utility perceptions predominantly underlie adolescents’ categorisations and become even more dominant in older adolescents, which potentially has an influence on attitudes to animals with implications for animal welfare, conservation, and education.
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