In this paper we demonstrate the interrelationship between emotional meaning and ethnozoological cognition in American culture. Data were obtained from 101 undergraduates who freelisted the names of the animals they like as well as the names of those they dislike. Respondents also rated the five ethnozoological life forms (birds, snakes, fish, mammals, and “wugs”) according to personal preference. We found a significant correlation between the evaluation of each life form (e.g., the relative order of preference) and the cognitive salience of the life form on the freelists. Concordance was also found between the evaluation of each life form and the respective proportion of each life form on the freelists. In addition, we discovered a strong level of intragroup agreement among the ratings of the five life forms. Our conclusions support the growing body of evidence suggesting that culturally programmed orientations toward living creatures constitute a powerful component in ethnobiological information processing.
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