Butterfly Eyespots: Their Potential Influence on Aesthetic Preferences and Conservation Attitudes

Caldwell, Christine, Manesi, Zoi, Van Lange, Paul and Pollet, Thomas (2015) Butterfly Eyespots: Their Potential Influence on Aesthetic Preferences and Conservation Attitudes. PLoS ONE, 10 (11). e0141433. ISSN 1932-6203

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0141433


Research has shown that the mere presence of stimuli that resemble eyes is sufficient to attract attention, elicit aesthetic responses, and can even enhance prosocial behavior. However, it is less clear whether eye-like stimuli could also be used as a tool for nature conservation. Several animal species, including butterflies, develop eye-like markings that are known as eyespots. In the present research, we explored whether the mere display of eyespots on butterfly wings can enhance: (a) liking for a butterfly species, and (b) attitudes and behaviors towards conservation of a butterfly species. Four online experimental studies, involving 613 participants, demonstrated that eyespots significantly increased liking for a butterfly species. Furthermore, eyespots significantly increased positive attitudes towards conservation of a butterfly species (Studies 1, 2 and 4), whereas liking mediated the eyespot effect on conservation attitudes (Study 2). However, we also found some mixed evidence for an association between eyespots and actual conservation behavior (Studies 3 and 4). Overall, these findings suggest that eyespots may increase liking for an animal and sensitize humans to conservation. We discuss possible implications for biodiversity conservation and future research directions.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: C800 Psychology
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Psychology
Depositing User: Becky Skoyles
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2017 10:48
Last Modified: 27 Sep 2021 10:30
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/31966

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