A cross-cultural comparison of the link between modernization, anthropomorphism and attitude to wildlife

Jose Luis Gomez-Melara*, Rufino Acosta-Naranjo, Patricia Izar, Shahrul Anuar Mohd Sah, Jordi Pladevall, Risma Illa Maulany, Putu Oka Ngakan, Bonaventura Majolo, Teresa Romero, Federica Amici*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Anthropogenic pressure has significantly increased in the last decades, often enhancing conflicts at the human–wildlife interface. Therefore, understanding peoples’ value orientations, attitudes and behavioural intentions towards wildlife is a crucial endeavour to reduce the occurrence of conflicts between humans and wildlife. Previous research in the USA has shown a consistent link between modernization and increased anthropomorphism (i.e., the tendency to attribute human mental or physical characteristics to other entities), leading to positive changes in value orienta-tions, attitudes, and behavioural intentions towards wildlife. In this paper, we aimed to address whether this link is also present in other cultures, by testing participants (N = 741) in five different countries (Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, and Spain). Our study shows that while the positive link between anthropomorphism, positive attitudes and behavioural intentions towards wildlife is universal, the link between modernization and anthropomorphism is culturally mediated. In some countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Spain), modernization increased anthropomorphism, while in others modernization predicted no differences (Brazil) or even a decrease in anthropomorphism (Mexico), ultimately deteriorating individuals’ attitude and behavioural intentions towards wildlife. These results call for caution when generalizing findings from western industrialized countries to inform conservation policies worldwide.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13095
Number of pages16
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 26 Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Anthropomorphism
  • Attitude
  • Domination
  • Modernization
  • Mutualism
  • Wildlife

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