Society & Animals 8:2 (2000) © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2000 Paul Morris, 1 Margaret Fidler, and Alan Costall Beyond Anecdotes: An Empirical Study of “Anthropomorphism” ABSTRACT The status of “anthropomorphic” descriptions of animals in terms of intentions and emotions has been generally regarded as a pre- scriptive methodological concern. In contrast, in the study of human social psychology the nature of psychological descriptions of other people has been approached as a substantive empirical issue. Following this lead, the present study investigated the nature of people’s descriptions of short videotaped episodes of animal behavior. The descriptions obtained were predominantly anthro- pomorphic and structured according to a limited set of “event units” whose psychological meaning was highly consistent across the obser vers. In common with many social psychologists we con- clude that consistency of anthropomorphic description suggests that meaning is specied within the structure of behavior. This paper is concerned with the anthropomorphic or psychological description of animals behavior. Strictly speaking, however, “anthropomorphism” refers to a specic and highly inuential theory (and associated method) of how psychological descrip- tions of other animal’s are possible. This theory, devel- oped by Clifford, Romanes, and Morgan, maintained that the sole way in
Society & Animals – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2000
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