Social media contexts moderate perceptions of animals.
The rapid rise of social media in the past decade represents a new space where animals are represented in human society, and this may influence human perceptions, for example driving desire for exotic pet keeping. In this study, 211 participants (49% female) between the ages of 18 to 44 were recruited to an online survey where they viewed mock-up pages from a social media site. All participants saw the same image of a primate but were randomly assigned to a pro exotic pet keeping or anti exotic pet keeping narrative condition. When participants were presented with the anti narrative they perceived the animal to be more stressed (χ2 = 13.99, p < 0.001). In free text comments, participants expressed reservations in the face of a narrative they disagreed with in free text comments. Overall, this study found evidence to suggest that people moderate their discussions on human-animal interactions based on the social network they are in, but these relationships are complex and require further research.