Picture Perception in Animals

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More popular accounts of these studies have mostly assumed that the pigeons were recognising the equivalencies between the pictures presented and the objects or scenes that were represented on them. We argue that this assumption may often not be warranted because picture technology is adjusted to fool human vision but not pigeon vision.

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Mammalian and avian visual systems have a long divergent evolutionary history. Anatomical, physiological, and behavioural investigations indicate that colour, depth, flicker, movement and other aspects of vision are probably sufficiently different from humans in pigeons and other birds, enough for pictures to appear to them quite different from reality. We review a number of studies in pigeons and chickens that were concerned with the cross-recognition of real objects or scenes and pictures thereof.

Table 4 shows how the pigs, either presented separately Fig 2 or with a pen as picture background Fig 3 were evaluated. The evaluations of the pens Table 5 reveal that in terms of species-appropriateness and naturalness the three pictures showing the straw pen are evaluated equally and the three pictures showing the slatted floor pen are evaluated equally as well. The straw pen receives more positive values compared to the slatted floor pen on all pictures. Again here, the slatted floor pen is evaluated always the same and more negatively. The slatted floor pictures are evaluated as being less future-proof same for all three pictures and more dirty compared to the straw pen settings.

Table 6 shows the main effects and interactions included in the model that analyzes the influences on the evaluation of the pig in the combined pictures. Whether the participants belong to split one or two separate or combined pictures first does not influence pig evaluation.

Perception Test

The first combined picture that the respondents saw also does not infleunces pig perception. Furthermore, the interaction of Pig x Pen does not influence the evaluation of the pig. Table 7 shows the main effects and interaction included in the linear mixed model that analyzes the evaluation of the pen. Contrasting the model of pig evaluation, the split, indicating whether participants saw the combined or single pictures first, shows an effect on pen evaluation in the combined pictures. However, the first combined picture that participants saw does not effectpen evaluation. Also, the interaction between Pig and Pen does not influence pen evaluation.

Table 8 shows the effects of picture composition the pig and the pen on pig and pen evaluation resulting from the models presented above. The straw pen also improves picture evaluation compared to the slatted floor pen. In addition, the difference between the LS means is higher between the two pens than the two pigs.

Growing up on farm improves both pig and pen evaluation in the models. Having no connection to agriculture leads to a more negative evaluation of pigs and pens in the models. The split only effects picture evaluation in case of pen evaluation with a more positive evaluation from participants in split 2, who saw the combined pictures first. Indeed, researchers relate ear postures of farm animals to their emotional states for example for sheep: [ 24 ]. Nevertheless, indicators for the reliable identification of emotional states in farm animals are not existent yet [ 24 ] and the real affective state of the pig at the point of picture-taking remains uncertain.

Regarding the evaluation of the two pens, it could be observed that the slatted floor is perceived more negatively than straw bedding. The negative perception of the slatted floor in this study is striking and is in line with the lack of acceptance for this husbandry system by the majority of German citizens [ 39 ], as well as those in other European countries [ 9 ].

In contrast, the more positive evaluation of the straw pen is in line with the finding that litter bedding has been shown to have a strong positive influence on the evaluation of husbandry systems by people from the broader public [ 10 ]. Nevertheless, the level of dirt on the wall differs between the two pictures with the slatted floor pen picture showing higher and darker amounts of dirt. We are therefore not able to clearly distinguish wether the more negative evaluation of the slatted floor setting is due to the floor type or to the level of dirt on the wall, which clearly limits the validity of our results.

These findings are in line with studies which suggest that picture background influences the perception of the object [ 40 ], and further that the perception of animals is influenced by the context in which they are depicted [ 1 , 2 , 3 , 41 , 42 ]. When the general public assesses husbandry systems for pigs, housing and floor type significantly contribute to their evaluation [ 9 , 10 , 11 ] and this holds also true for the picture evaluations in our study.

Accordingly, the welfare of both pigs is rated more negatively when the pig is standing on a slatted floor with a dirty wall rather than on straw bedding with a cleaner wall. The influence of the split shows a more positive evaluation of the pen but not of the pig for split 2 participants who saw the combined pictures first. Contrastingly, split 1 participants might use the single pictures they have seen as frame of reference for the combined pictures, leading to a more critical evaluation of the pen.

Why this effect only occurs for the evaluation of the pen and not for the pig remains unanswered. Our results underline that both, picture composition bottom-up factors as well as top-down factors, such as as the viewers attitude towards pigs, influence the perception of pictures [ 45 ]. People visiting pig farms experience nostalgia when smelling straw, which possibly leads to more positive reactions [ 7 ].

Straw is further considered to be important for housing systems for pigs by the general public because of its naturalness, possibilities for playing and its bedding properties [ 7 ]. Due to the different levels of dirt in the pictures used in the study, the better evaluation of the straw pen might also trace back to the slightly cleaner pen compared to the slatted floor pen.

Different contexts such as neutral versus emotional contextual movies can alter the perception of facial expressions and mental states of the shown actors, a fact which is known as the Kuleshov effect [ 46 ]; see also [ 47 ]. Mobbs et al. Similarly, the design of the pen influences the evaluation of the pig that lives in it depending on already existing or just formed opinions about that system.

Finally, that the environment is strongly linked to the well-being of the animal being exposed to that environment seems likely and could explain the strong influence of the pen on picture evaluation in our study. The pig and its expression also influenced pig and pen evaluation, but with minor strength. However, the effect of the pig on pig and pen evaluation is lower than the effect of the pen tested in our study. Behavioral studies suggest that the context in which faces are shown has the largest effect when the clarity of facial expression is low, while the clarity of the context is high [ 47 , 51 , 52 ].


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This might explain the strong effect of the pen, as well as the comparably smaller effect of the pig. Additionally, it should be considered that the expression of the pig is only a snapshot and could thus change within a matter of seconds, whereas the environment is consistent and enduring.

Respondents could possibly recognize this point and therefore draw conclusions rather from the steadier element in the picture, which is the pen. Regarding the perception of farmed pigs in pictures, the context in which an animal is presented seems to influence the public perception of the scene. Husbandry systems for farm animals play a dominant role in the context of perceived animal welfare in modern communication processes pertaining to agriculture.

Thereby, positive or negative pre-existing attitudes towards husbandry systems might alter the overall evaluation of animal welfare. This needs to be taken into consideration for the discussion surrounding farm animal welfare and the perception of pictures showing animals in their environment in the media. As a limitation in study design it must be noted that only one picture for each husbandry system one with straw and one with slatted floor has been tested. In order to draw broader conclusions about the systems in general, more different pictures showing both systems should have been used. This holds also true for the two pigs.

Further, the two pens show different degrees of wall contamination which could also possibly have influenced picture evaluation. In future studies, the level of dirt on the walls, as well as all other potentially confounding features, should be either eliminated or kept exactly the same between the pictures in order to be able to clearly identify the effects of pen type on picture evaluation.

In future studies it should be controlled for this aspect if samples are split. We further thank the anonymous reviewers and editor for their helpful comments that improved the quality of our manuscript. Browse Subject Areas? Click through the PLOS taxonomy to find articles in your field. Abstract Pictures of farm animals and their husbandry systems are frequently presented in the media and are mostly connected to discussions surrounding farm animal welfare.

Introduction The environment in which an animal is presented has a clear effect on the characteristics that people ascribe to the animal [ 1 , 2 , 3 ]. Materials and methods Survey design To investigate the influence of the perceived body language of pigs and the barn setting on picture perception, different pictures were presented to members of the non-farming public in an online-survey. Download: PPT. Table 1. Word pairs used for the evaluation of the pigs and pens on a five-point semantic differential and reasons for choosing the word pairs derived from literature.

Pictures The pictures used in the study were taken by a photographer specializing in agricultural photography. Fig 2. Pictures of pigs and pens presented as stimuli to survey participants. Fig 3. Combined pictures of pigs and pen settings presented as stimuli to survey participants. Participant recruitment and data collection The study is based on an online survey that was conducted in June and July with German residents.

Sample description According to quotas that were set for gender, age, income and education, both sample splits are very close to the actual distribution of the German population see Table 2. Table 2. Table 3. Evaluations of pigs and pens Table 4 shows how the pigs, either presented separately Fig 2 or with a pen as picture background Fig 3 were evaluated. Table 4. Table 5. Effects influencing the evaluation of pig and pen in the combined pictures Table 6 shows the main effects and interactions included in the model that analyzes the influences on the evaluation of the pig in the combined pictures.

Table 6. Type III tests and estimates of fixed effects in the linear mixed model on pig evaluation in the pictures. Table 7. Type III tests of fixed effects and estimates of fixed effects in the linear mixed model on pen evaluation in the pictures. Table 8. Table 9. Conclusions Regarding the perception of farmed pigs in pictures, the context in which an animal is presented seems to influence the public perception of the scene.


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Limitation As a limitation in study design it must be noted that only one picture for each husbandry system one with straw and one with slatted floor has been tested. Supporting information. S1 File. Output factor pig and pen. S2 File. Output factor belief in pig mind. S3 File. Output model. References 1. Maple TL. Environmental psychology and great ape reproduction.

Picture Perception in Animals

International Journal for the Study of Animal Problems. View Article Google Scholar 2. The effects of zoo environments on public attitudes toward endangered wildlife. Online Available online. Full view. SAL3 off-campus storage. P49 Available. More options.

Find it at other libraries via WorldCat Limited preview. Bibliography Includes bibliographical references and indexes. Contents J. Delius, J. Emmerton, J. Ostheim, W.

Image perception in the blink of an eye

Horster, R. Jager, J. Ostheim, Picture-object Recognition in Pigeons. Peissig, M. Young, E. Wasserman, I. Biederman, The Pigeon's Perception of Depth-rotated shapes. Recognition of the Real World from its 2- representation.