The effect of priming on perceptions of dog breed traits

Deborah Wells, D.J. Morrison, Peter Hepper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This study examined whether priming cues embedded in mediastyle presentations shaped people's perceptions of specific dog breeds, and in particular, the German shepherd dog (GSD). Two hundred and four adult females were exposed to one of two types of media-style presentation (stories or pictures). Half of the participants in each condition were exposed to versions designed to portray the GSD in a positive light; the remainder to stimuli developed to present the same breed in a negative light. Participants subsequently rated six individual breeds of dog, including the target breed, on a number of traits (e.g., “friendliness,“ “aggression“). Analysis revealed a significant effect of priming on people's perceptions of the GSD. Participants exposed to the negative stimuli perceived this breed as significantly less approachable, and more dangerous and aggressive, than those exposed to the positive stimuli. Priming did not influence the participants' perceptions of other breeds, even those often regarded in a negative light, although there was some evidence of breed-related category-based stereotyping. Overall, results suggest that people's perceptions of dog breeds can be influenced by verbal and visual representations. The results have implications for how dogs are portrayed in the media and other publically available sources of information.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-377
Number of pages9
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary (miscalleneous)
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Education


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