Feel the love. Love the feeling. 

Does emotional response become more positive when participants view two Wild Animals? We tested three types of relationships in two-animal images.

  • Family:  Mother with offspring with no interaction between the two. They pose next to each other and face the camera much like the headshots in Portrait photos.
  • Bonding: Again, mother with offspring. Here, however, they are in interaction and neither is facing the camera.
  • Romance: A Wild Animal adult couple in an affectionate interaction.

The Wild Animals Experiment:

Eliciting and Measuring Emotional Response

Formation of a secure attachment between offspring and parent or caregiver, termed ‘bonding,’ impacts abilities to interact, communicate, and form relationships throughout life (Bowlby, 1988). Attachment bonding is essential for non-human animals as well as humans.

The Wild Animals Experiment shows the power of bonding images to generate strong, positive emotional response in our participants. The mean rank for Wild Animal Bonding photos is 11.1 compared to 14.9 for Family photos. Four of the Bonding photos are in the top ten: White Tigers (Rank 4), Hippos (Rank 5), Koalas (Rank 6), and Ducks (Rank 7).

The mother and child image is a classic example of a strong emotional connection and the joys of new life. Four Wild Animal Family photos have high Valence rank order, White Rhinos (Rank 8), Brown Bears (Rank 9), Camels (Rank 10), and Lions (Rank 11). The overall average rank of 14.9 is lower than the 17.4 obtained by Portraits indicating that the presence of a child heightens emotional response to Wild Animal photos.

Applied NeuroKnowledge

The results of The Wild Animals Experiement show a strongly more positive response to two animals clearly in some form of relationship, be that Bonding, Family, or Romance, when compared to either Portraits or Full Bodies.
Wild Animal Romance photos include two of the highest ranked photos. However, the remainder fall short (mean Rank = 16.4). The wide range of rank (2 to 30) suggests that some romantic gestures communicate better between wild animals than to us.

The Wild Animal Romance photos show small actions that convey affection, bringing a pair closer. Iguanas  and Chimpanzees are Valence Rank 2 and Rank 3, respectively.