Advanced

Physiological and behavioral responses in human fear of bears and wolves.

Flykt, Anders; Johansson, Maria LU ; Karlsson, Jens and Lindeberg, S (2012) IAPS 22 Conference: Human experience in the natural and built environment: Implications for research policy & practice In IAPS 22 Conference: Human experience in the natural and built environment: Implications for research policy & practice (Abstracts of Presentations)
Abstract
Research on human emotions towards large carnivores is often based on self-reported emotions. This study aimed to investigate physiological and behavioral responses to feared animals among people who say that they are fearful or not fearful of brown bear and wolf. Participants were recruited to be bear fearful only (n=8), fearful of both bear and wolves (n=15), or fearful of neither carnivore (n=14). Three experiments were conducted, including recordings of ECG, skin conductance and eye movements. In the first experiment the task was to look at different pictures of bear, wolf, moose and hare. In the second experiment the participants had to screen 3x4 search arrays with moose pictures. The task was to decide if a hare picture was present... (More)
Research on human emotions towards large carnivores is often based on self-reported emotions. This study aimed to investigate physiological and behavioral responses to feared animals among people who say that they are fearful or not fearful of brown bear and wolf. Participants were recruited to be bear fearful only (n=8), fearful of both bear and wolves (n=15), or fearful of neither carnivore (n=14). Three experiments were conducted, including recordings of ECG, skin conductance and eye movements. In the first experiment the task was to look at different pictures of bear, wolf, moose and hare. In the second experiment the participants had to screen 3x4 search arrays with moose pictures. The task was to decide if a hare picture was present in the arrays or not. A bear or a wolf picture could also occur in the arrays, but should be ignored. The third experiment was an implicit association test where the task was to pair wolf, bear or hare, with good or bad words.The results suggest that bear pictures are potent stimuli for eliciting sympathetic activity regardless if the individuals are bear fearful or not. Wolf pictures showed more negative associations and attention capturing effects regardless if the participants are fearful of wolves or not. These results might imply that cognitive interpretation of physiological arousal has an important role for bear fear, and that cognitive interpretation of negative association has an important role in wolf fear. Being fearful of only bear, but not wolf, or being fearful of both these carnivores made a difference. The group fearful of only bears did also display an increase in parasympathetic activity to bear pictures. The group fearful of both carnivores did not show this increase, however, they did show more difficulty in associating bear with good words, an effect that was not shown in the group only fearful of bears. These results imply that specific fear of one specific carnivore species have a different etiology than being fearful of carnivores in general.When a picture of a feared animal appeared among the moose the response time increased. Thus, perceiving a feared carnivore is distractive and has an effect on performance. The group fearful of bears, but not wolves, did respond faster when a wolf picture occurred among the moose pictures. This implies that mental resources are allocated to the feared animal when it is potentially present but not perceived, and that these resources can be freed if the individual is "assured" that the feared animal will not appear.This study showed that fear is a central emotion in relation to wildlife, and that experimental methods are needed to get a substantial understanding of fear. An understanding of the etiology of bear and wolf fear and its relation to cognitions and performance is important for wildlife policy decisions. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceeding
publication status
published
subject
keywords
physiology psychology behaviour human fear wolfes bears emotions
in
IAPS 22 Conference: Human experience in the natural and built environment: Implications for research policy & practice (Abstracts of Presentations)
editor
Romice, Ombretta; Edgerton, Edward and Thwaites, Kevin
conference name
IAPS 22 Conference: Human experience in the natural and built environment: Implications for research policy & practice
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
6811264b-1641-4cec-a577-9b0e1da5270d (old id 3459030)
alternative location
http://iaps.scix.net/cgi-bin/works/Show?_id=iaps_22_2012_2381679_229&sort=DEFAULT&search=flykt&hits=4
date added to LUP
2013-02-12 13:10:20
date last changed
2016-04-16 10:53:28
@misc{6811264b-1641-4cec-a577-9b0e1da5270d,
  abstract     = {Research on human emotions towards large carnivores is often based on self-reported emotions. This study aimed to investigate physiological and behavioral responses to feared animals among people who say that they are fearful or not fearful of brown bear and wolf. Participants were recruited to be bear fearful only (n=8), fearful of both bear and wolves (n=15), or fearful of neither carnivore (n=14). Three experiments were conducted, including recordings of ECG, skin conductance and eye movements. In the first experiment the task was to look at different pictures of bear, wolf, moose and hare. In the second experiment the participants had to screen 3x4 search arrays with moose pictures. The task was to decide if a hare picture was present in the arrays or not. A bear or a wolf picture could also occur in the arrays, but should be ignored. The third experiment was an implicit association test where the task was to pair wolf, bear or hare, with good or bad words.The results suggest that bear pictures are potent stimuli for eliciting sympathetic activity regardless if the individuals are bear fearful or not. Wolf pictures showed more negative associations and attention capturing effects regardless if the participants are fearful of wolves or not. These results might imply that cognitive interpretation of physiological arousal has an important role for bear fear, and that cognitive interpretation of negative association has an important role in wolf fear. Being fearful of only bear, but not wolf, or being fearful of both these carnivores made a difference. The group fearful of only bears did also display an increase in parasympathetic activity to bear pictures. The group fearful of both carnivores did not show this increase, however, they did show more difficulty in associating bear with good words, an effect that was not shown in the group only fearful of bears. These results imply that specific fear of one specific carnivore species have a different etiology than being fearful of carnivores in general.When a picture of a feared animal appeared among the moose the response time increased. Thus, perceiving a feared carnivore is distractive and has an effect on performance. The group fearful of bears, but not wolves, did respond faster when a wolf picture occurred among the moose pictures. This implies that mental resources are allocated to the feared animal when it is potentially present but not perceived, and that these resources can be freed if the individual is "assured" that the feared animal will not appear.This study showed that fear is a central emotion in relation to wildlife, and that experimental methods are needed to get a substantial understanding of fear. An understanding of the etiology of bear and wolf fear and its relation to cognitions and performance is important for wildlife policy decisions.},
  author       = {Flykt, Anders and Johansson, Maria and Karlsson, Jens and Lindeberg, S},
  editor       = {Romice, Ombretta and Edgerton, Edward and Thwaites, Kevin},
  keyword      = {physiology psychology behaviour human fear wolfes bears emotions},
  language     = {eng},
  series       = {IAPS 22 Conference: Human experience in the natural and built environment: Implications for research policy & practice (Abstracts of Presentations)},
  title        = {Physiological and behavioral responses in human fear of bears and wolves.},
  year         = {2012},
}