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Engaging the Animal in the Moving Image

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image of Society & Animals

Human engagement with nonhuman animals in motion pictures is a complex process that anthropomorphism and identification misconstrue. A superior model comes from cognitive theories of how spectators engage characters, particularly Smith (1995), who suggests modifications to account for the nuances of spectator engagement with nonhuman animal characters. The central components of this amended model include the person schema, the three types of cues that films use to activate the person schema, and what Smith calls the "Structure of Sympathy." Such a model enables us to understand better the role that moving image representations of nonhuman animals play in human-animal relationships.


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