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"I Can Haz Emoshuns?"--Understanding Anthropomorphosis of Cats among Internet Users

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7 Author(s)
Foster, D. ; Sch. of Comput. Sci., Univ. of Lincoln, Lincoln, UK ; Kirman, B. ; Linehan, C. ; Lawson, Shaun
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The attribution of human-like traits to non-human animals, termed anthropomorphism, can lead to misunderstandings of animal behaviour, which can result in risks to both human and animal well being and welfare. In this paper, we, during an inter-disciplinary collaboration between social computing and animal behaviour researchers, investigated whether a simple image-tagging application could improve the understanding of how people ascribe intentions and emotions to the behaviour of their domestic cats. A web-based application, Tag puss, was developed to present casual users with photographs drawn from a database of 1631 images of domestic cats and asked them to ascribe an emotion to the cat portrayed in the image. Over five thousand people actively participated in the study in the space of four weeks, generating over 50,000 tags. Results indicate Tag puss can be used to identify cat behaviours that lay-people find difficult to distinguish. This highlights further expert scientific exploration that focuses on educating cat owners to identify possible problems with their cat's welfare.

Published in:

Privacy, Security, Risk and Trust (PASSAT) and 2011 IEEE Third Inernational Conference on Social Computing (SocialCom), 2011 IEEE Third International Conference on

Date of Conference:

9-11 Oct. 2011