Use of "entertainment" chimpanzees in commercials distorts public perception regarding their conservation status.

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Schroepfer, Kara K

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Rosati, Alexandra G

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Chartrand, Tanya

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Hare, Brian

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United States

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2013-04-29T18:41:21Z

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2011

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Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) are often used in movies, commercials and print advertisements with the intention of eliciting a humorous response from audiences. The portrayal of chimpanzees in unnatural, human-like situations may have a negative effect on the public's understanding of their endangered status in the wild while making them appear as suitable pets. Alternatively, media content that elicits a positive emotional response toward chimpanzees may increase the public's commitment to chimpanzee conservation. To test these competing hypotheses, participants (n = 165) watched a series of commercials in an experiment framed as a marketing study. Imbedded within the same series of commercials was one of three chimpanzee videos. Participants either watched 1) a chimpanzee conservation commercial, 2) commercials containing "entertainment" chimpanzees or 3) control footage of the natural behavior of wild chimpanzees. Results from a post-viewing questionnaire reveal that participants who watched the conservation message understood that chimpanzees were endangered and unsuitable as pets at higher levels than those viewing the control footage. Meanwhile participants watching commercials with entertainment chimpanzees showed a decrease in understanding relative to those watching the control footage. In addition, when participants were given the opportunity to donate part of their earnings from the experiment to a conservation charity, donations were least frequent in the group watching commercials with entertainment chimpanzees. Control questions show that participants did not detect the purpose of the study. These results firmly support the hypothesis that use of entertainment chimpanzees in the popular media negatively distorts the public's perception and hinders chimpanzee conservation efforts.

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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22022503

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PONE-D-11-17800

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1932-6203

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https://hdl.handle.net/10161/6941

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eng

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Public Library of Science (PLoS)

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PLoS One

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10.1371/journal.pone.0026048

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Africa

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Animals

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Conservation of Natural Resources

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Endangered Species

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Leisure Activities

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Mass Media

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Pan troglodytes

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Perception

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Pets

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Surveys and Questionnaires

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Use of "entertainment" chimpanzees in commercials distorts public perception regarding their conservation status.

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Journal article

pubs.author-url

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22022503

pubs.begin-page

e26048

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10

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Center for Child and Family Policy

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Center for Cognitive Neuroscience

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Duke

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Duke Institute for Brain Sciences

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Duke Science & Society

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Evolutionary Anthropology

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Fuqua School of Business

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Initiatives

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Institutes and Provost's Academic Units

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Psychology and Neuroscience

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Sanford School of Public Policy

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Trinity College of Arts & Sciences

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University Institutes and Centers

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Published

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6

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