“I can haz emoshuns?”: understanding anthropomorphosis of cats among internet users

Foster, Derek, Kirman, Ben, Linehan, Conor , Lawson, Shaun, Mills, Daniel, Ellis, Sarah and Zulch, Helen (2011) “I can haz emoshuns?”: understanding anthropomorphosis of cats among internet users. In: 3rd International Conference on Social Computing, 9-11 October 2011, MIT Boston.

Full content URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/PASSAT/SocialCom.2011.15...

Tagpuss Study
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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


The attribution of human-like traits to non-human animals, termed anthropomorphism, can lead to misunderstandings of animal behaviour, which can result in risks to both human and animal wellbeing and welfare. In this paper, we, during an inter-disciplinary collaboration between social computing and animal behaviour researchers, investigated whether a simple image-tagging application could improve the understanding of how people ascribe intentions and emotions to the behaviour of their domestic cats. A web-based application, Tagpuss, was developed to present casual users with photographs drawn from a database of 1631 images of domestic cats and asked them to ascribe an emotion to the cat portrayed in the image. Over five thousand people actively participated in the study in the space of four weeks, generating over 50,000 tags. Results indicate Tagpuss can be used to identify cat behaviours that lay-people find difficult to distinguish. This highlights further expert scientific exploration that focuses on educating cat owners to identify possible problems with their cat’s welfare.

Keywords:cats, user generated content, image tagging, animal behaviour, anthropomorphism
Subjects:G Mathematical and Computer Sciences > G440 Human-computer Interaction
G Mathematical and Computer Sciences > G400 Computer Science
D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D328 Animal Welfare
Divisions:College of Science > School of Computer Science
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ID Code:4654
Deposited On:05 Sep 2011 13:26

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