Children's Perceptions of Friendliness Based on Physical Appearance in Humans and Canines

ECU Author/Contributor (non-ECU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Elizabeth B. Seagroves (Creator)
East Carolina University (ECU )
Web Site:
Sandra Triebenbacher

Abstract: Physical appearance serves as a window to one's character. More specifically faces give us clues to an individual's emotional state personality and behavior. The present study aims to draw parallels between what existing literature reveals about the physical characteristics humans use to describe other humans and what physical characteristics children tend to use when characterizing canines. A sample of 105 children in grades pre-Kindergarten to third grade were asked to view photographs of 14 dogs differing in size color breed and other physical aspects. Participants rated the dogs on a scale from very friendly to very unfriendly based on physical attributes and were then asked to elaborate on the rating of each photograph. Similarities were found in the physical characteristics used by children to characterize humans according to existing literature and canines in the current study. Humans tend to utilize facial features when characterizing other humans and the results from the current study reveal that humans also use facial features particularly the eyes and mouth to characterize canines followed by the ears and tail. The results give insight into physical characteristics that may influence a child to approach an unfamiliar dog. 

Additional Information

Date: 2012
Early childhood education, Behavioral sciences, Developmental psychology, canines, friendliness, Perceptions
Social perception in children
Facial expression
Children and animals

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