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Carlos DREWS (Costa Rica) September 13", 2001 ATTITUDES TOWARD ANIMALS IN THE NEOTROPICS: WHEN POSITIVE FEELINGS BACKFIRE Dr. Carlos Drews, Regional Wildlife Management Program, Universidad ‘Nacional, Apartado 1350-3000 Heredia, Costa Rica. Positive attitudes toward animals do not necessarily lead to kind treatment, respect and consideration of the animal’s needs. The study of attitudes in a society provides insight into variables that may be pertinent to people's everyday decisions and behaviors regarding animals. Nonetheless, attitudes alone are not sufficient to explain the routinely observed practices involving ‘animals, some of which seem contradictory to the attitudes manifested, Attitudes toward animals are shaped by our values, knowledge, perceptions and the nature of existing relationships between people and the animals, A nationwide survey in Costa Rica revealed at least five attitude dimensions toward animals. The conceptual framework proposed by Stephen Kellert (e.g. Kellert $.R. 1993. The value of life. Island Press, Washington D.C.) served as the basis for the design and analysis of this study. The inquisitive attitude reflects interest in learning about the biology of animals and their habitats. The humanistic attitude is about feelings of affection toward ‘mimals. The aestheticinegativistic attitude emphasizes the role of aesthetic appearance in the preferences for certain animals and acknowledges feclings of aversion, dislike or fear of some animals. The utilitarian / dominionistic attitude relates to the extractive use of and control over animals. The moralistic attitude acknowledges the intrinsic value of animals and is concerned with the ethical treatment of animals and nature, ‘Overall, Costa Rican adults have a strong humanistic attitude toward animals. In contrast, the utilitarian / dominionistic attitude is weak. There is a ‘widespread interest in learning about the biology of animals (inquisitive attitude) and a clear majority that acknowledges their intrinsic value (moralistic attitude). The aesthetic/negativistic attitude lies just above the threshold of indifference, suggesting a slight bias toward positive values in this dimension in Costa Rican society. Biophilia, the innately emotional affiliation of human beings to other living organisms as coined by E.O. Wilson, probably contributes to the positive feelings of Costa Ricans toward animals. ‘There were significant differences in the attitude levels by sex. age, socioeconomic status, urban vs. rural environment and education, Differences between sexes were slight, but statistically significant. Women have higher scores in the aestheticfnegativistic attitude than men. Male respondents score higher than women in the inquisitive, humanistic, and the utilitarian /