Attitudes toward protecting endangered species: The impact of perceived physical attractiveness of animals and political ideology

Richard J. Harnish, Rajan Nataraajan, Piotr Tarka, Frederick J. Slack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

The current research examined how the perceived physical attractiveness (by humans) of an endangered species, the Dead Leaf Butterfly (Kallima inachus), political orientation, and political ideology impacted participants' attitudes toward supporting and protecting a species. Three experiments were conducted where the physical attractiveness of the Dead Leaf Butterfly was manipulated. Two of the experiments used a representative American sample, while one of the experiments used a Polish sample. In all three studies: (1) Participants rated the Dead Leaf Butterfly as more physically attractive when its wings were open and displayed a black apex, an orange discal band, and a deep blue base than when its wings were closed and resembled a dried leaf with dark veins; and (2) those who scored high in humanitarianism-egalitarianism provided more support for protection from harm for the Dead Leaf Butterfly compared to those who scored low in humanitarianism-egalitarianism. Only in the studies where Americans participated did we find (1) those who were politically liberal indicated more support for the Dead Leaf Butterfly regardless of physical attractiveness as compared to those who were politically conservative, and (2) those who scored low in right-wing authoritarianism provided more support for protection from harm for the Dead Leaf Butterfly compared to those who scored high in right-wing authoritarianism. The differences observed between the American and Polish samples suggest that environmental attitudes are more polarized in the United States compared to Poland. These studies advance our knowledge of how attitudes toward animals are affected by the polarization of political attitudes toward the environment and provide insight for marketers when creating marketing strategies and designing appropriate messaging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-88
Number of pages16
JournalPsychology and Marketing
Volume40
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Marketing

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