What's the Draw: Illustrating the Impacts of Cartoons Versus Photographs on Attitudes and Behavioral Intentions for Wildlife Conservation

Brianna Osinski, Purdue University


Creating cartoon caricatures of animals is a common, yet rarely tested, tactic for increasing wildlife conservation support. Indiana adults were surveyed to investigate if cartoons of non-charismatic wildlife (i.e., fanshell mussels (Cyprogenia stegaria), eastern hellbenders (Cryptobranchus a. alleganiensis), and northern long-eared bats (Myotis septentrionalis )) elicited more positive attitudes and behavioral intentions than photographs. Additionally, Indiana wildlife management professionals (WMPs) were interviewed about the use of cartoons for conservation. The cartoon’s effects differed between species, attitude type (“Likeability” and “Worth”), and behavioral intentions. Compared to photograph scores, the cartoon “Likeability” scores were less positive for mussels, more positive for hellbenders, and not significantly different for bats. Depiction had no significant impact on “Worth” or behavioral intentions. However, both attitudes predicted significantly more positive behavioral intentions. WMPs were open to creating cartoons of non-charismatic species for conservation if the cartoon was accurate, connected with a broad audience, and had a clear message. These data illustrate the potential of cartoons as effective tools in non-charismatic species conservation.




Prokopy, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Wildlife Conservation|Marketing|Social research|Conservation biology

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