Anthropomorphism vs. Zooanthropomorphism

Many years ago while I was giving a paper at a Cetacean conference on human-animal interactions with dolphins, a colleague raised his hand and stated that I was being “anthropomorphic” in my assignment of temperament traits to dolphins. Well, I responded quickly (feeling the “curse of the scientist”) that to the contrary we humans were being very zooanthropomorphic in our assignment of animal emotions to humans. Since animals have existed for millions of years before humans and have such demonstrated a wide expanse of emotions, then it is our human-centric view that sees ourselves as the center or the universe and therefore we are incorrect in viewing emotions in animals as anthropomorphic.

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~ by maryannsimonds on January 8, 2010.

One Response to “Anthropomorphism vs. Zooanthropomorphism”

  1. So glad to read this… in my years in University studying Evolutionary Biology, I was constantly running up against this sentiment with all my colleagues and professors, and in that time I had a difficult time explaining my point of view… all to often I was viewed patronizingly as “cute”, and not a serious scientist. Hooray for Temple Grandin and others who are changing the paradigm.

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