The purpose of this study was to examine how attitudes toward different nonhuman animal species (including emotional empathy, cognitive empathy, and harm avoidance) are shaped by the coevolutionary histories between the ancestors of contemporary humans and these different nonhuman animal species. We compared the explanatory power of alternative categorization frameworks for classifying attitudes toward animals across several cross-cultural samples (Arizona, California, Costa Rica, Spain, and Mexico). Analytical Approach 1 directly compared two alternative frameworks. Adapa categories were generated as purely functional ones based upon the ecological niches occupied by each species within the biotic community generated by human–nonhuman animal relations, and Tuxtla categories were generated as cognitive ones based upon the degrees of consciousness commonly ascribed to the constituent species. Analytical Approach 2 tested the alternative hypothesis that both categories were part of a general scheme organized into three superordinate categories reflecting concentric circles around our own, consistent with fitness interdependence theory. Results supported this alternative hypothesis. The concentric circles model (Kith & Kin Animals, Domesticated Animals, and Wild Animals) better explained empathy and harm avoidance scores, suggesting that attitudes toward specific animal species are partly shaped by which circles they fall into, the product of the coevolutionary relationship shared between them and humans.
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© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.
- Cognitive Empathy
- Emotional Empathy
- Harm Avoidance
- Human–Animal Interactions
- Symbiotic Portmanteau Assemblages