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Practical Work at School Reduces Disgust and Fear of Unpopular Animals

In: Society & Animals
Authors:
Christoph Randler * University of Education, Biology and Didactics, Heidelberg, Germany randler@ph-heidelberg.de ** Trnava University, Trnava, and Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava, Slovakia

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Eberhard Hummel * University of Education, Biology and Didactics, Heidelberg, Germany randler@ph-heidelberg.de ** Trnava University, Trnava, and Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava, Slovakia

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Pavol Prokop * University of Education, Biology and Didactics, Heidelberg, Germany randler@ph-heidelberg.de ** Trnava University, Trnava, and Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava, Slovakia

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Abstract

Disgust and fear are basic emotions that protect humans against pathogens and/or predators. Natural selection favored individuals who successfully escaped or avoided harmful animals; thus animals who pose a disease threat activate aversive responses in humans. However, all these animals who are generally disliked have rights to their own existence and play important roles in ecosystems. Here, we used three unpopular live animals (wood louse, snail, and mouse) in practical biology work with 11-13-year-old children (experimental group). The control group had no opportunity to work with animals. Reported disgust and fear of these animals significantly decreased during the study in the experimental group but not in the control group. This study experimentally supports the idea that attitudes toward animals are positively influenced by physical contact with them.

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