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      The Effect of Background Music in Shark Documentaries on Viewers' Perceptions of Sharks

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          Abstract

          Despite the ongoing need for shark conservation and management, prevailing negative sentiments marginalize these animals and legitimize permissive exploitation. These negative attitudes arise from an instinctive, yet exaggerated fear, which is validated and reinforced by disproportionate and sensationalistic news coverage of shark ‘attacks’ and by highlighting shark-on-human violence in popular movies and documentaries. In this study, we investigate another subtler, yet powerful factor that contributes to this fear: the ominous background music that often accompanies shark footage in documentaries. Using three experiments, we show that participants rated sharks more negatively and less positively after viewing a 60-second video clip of swimming sharks set to ominous background music, compared to participants who watched the same video clip set to uplifting background music, or silence. This finding was not an artifact of soundtrack alone because attitudes toward sharks did not differ among participants assigned to audio-only control treatments. This is the first study to demonstrate empirically that the connotative attributes of background music accompanying shark footage affect viewers’ attitudes toward sharks. Given that nature documentaries are often regarded as objective and authoritative sources of information, it is critical that documentary filmmakers and viewers are aware of how the soundtrack can affect the interpretation of the educational content.

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          Most cited references 3

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          Australian and U.S. news media portrayal of sharks and their conservation.

          Investigation of the social framing of human-shark interactions may provide useful strategies for integrating social, biological, and ecological knowledge into national and international policy discussions about shark conservation. One way to investigate social opinion and forces related to sharks and their conservation is through the media's coverage of sharks. We conducted a content analysis of 300 shark-related articles published in 20 major Australian and U.S. newspapers from 2000 to 2010. Shark attacks were the emphasis of over half the articles analyzed, and shark conservation was the primary topic of 11% of articles. Significantly more Australian articles than U.S. articles treated shark attacks (χ(2) = 3.862; Australian 58% vs. U.S. 47%) and shark conservation issues (χ(2) = 6.856; Australian 15% vs. U.S. 11%) as the primary article topic and used politicians as the primary risk messenger (i.e., primary person or authority sourced in the article) (χ(2) = 7.493; Australian 8% vs. U.S. 1%). However, significantly more U.S. articles than Australian articles discussed sharks as entertainment (e.g., subjects in movies, books, and television; χ(2) = 15.130; U.S. 6% vs. Australian 1%) and used scientists as the primary risk messenger (χ(2) = 5.333; U.S. 25% vs. Australian 15%). Despite evidence that many shark species are at risk of extinction, we found that most media coverage emphasized the risks sharks pose to people. To the extent that media reflects social opinion, our results highlight problems for shark conservation. We suggest that conservation professionals purposefully and frequently engage with the media to highlight the rarity of shark attacks, discuss preventative measures water users can take to reduce their vulnerability to shark encounters, and discuss conservation issues related to local and threatened species of sharks. When integrated with biological and ecological data, social-science data may help generate a more comprehensive perspective and inform conservation practice.
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            The effect of background music on the taste of wine.

            Research concerning cross-modal influences on perception has neglected auditory influences on perceptions of non-auditory objects, although a small number of studies indicate that auditory stimuli can influence perceptions of the freshness of foodstuffs. Consistent with this, the results reported here indicate that independent groups' ratings of the taste of the wine reflected the emotional connotations of the background music played while they drank it. These results indicate that the symbolic function of auditory stimuli (in this case music) may influence perception in other modalities (in this case gustation); and are discussed in terms of possible future research that might investigate those aspects of music that induce such effects in a particular manner, and how such effects might be influenced by participants' pre-existing knowledge and expertise with regard to the target object in question. ©2011 The British Psychological Society.
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              The Marine Mammal Protection Act at 40: status, recovery, and future of U.S. marine mammals.

              Passed in 1972, the Marine Mammal Protection Act has two fundamental objectives: to maintain U.S. marine mammal stocks at their optimum sustainable populations and to uphold their ecological role in the ocean. The current status of many marine mammal populations is considerably better than in 1972. Take reduction plans have been largely successful in reducing direct fisheries bycatch, although they have not been prepared for all at-risk stocks, and fisheries continue to place marine mammals as risk. Information on population trends is unknown for most (71%) stocks; more stocks with known trends are improving than declining: 19% increasing, 5% stable, and 5% decreasing. Challenges remain, however, and the act has generally been ineffective in treating indirect impacts, such as noise, disease, and prey depletion. Existing conservation measures have not protected large whales from fisheries interactions or ship strikes in the northwestern Atlantic. Despite these limitations, marine mammals within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone appear to be faring better than those outside, with fewer species in at-risk categories and more of least concern.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: Editor
                Journal
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                plos
                plosone
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, CA USA )
                1932-6203
                3 August 2016
                2016
                : 11
                : 8
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, United States of America
                [2 ]Harvard Business School, Harvard University, Boston, MA, United States of America
                [3 ]Marine Biology Research Division, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, United States of America
                [4 ]Rady School of Management, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, United States of America
                University of California Davis, UNITED STATES
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

                Conceived and designed the experiments: AN EK. Performed the experiments: AN EK. Analyzed the data: AN EK. Wrote the paper: AN EK PH AG.

                Article
                PONE-D-16-19657
                10.1371/journal.pone.0159279
                4972383
                27487003
                © 2016 Nosal et al

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Page count
                Figures: 4, Tables: 0, Pages: 15
                Product
                Funding
                AN was supported by a DeLaCour Postdoctoral Fellowship awarded by the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and a small grant from Save Our Seas Foundation. EK was supported by a mini grant through National Science Foundation (NSF) Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) award #0903551. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Categories
                Research Article
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Organisms
                Animals
                Vertebrates
                Fishes
                Chondrichthyes
                Elasmobranchii
                Sharks
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Neuroscience
                Cognitive Science
                Cognitive Psychology
                Music Cognition
                Music Perception
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Psychology
                Cognitive Psychology
                Music Cognition
                Music Perception
                Social Sciences
                Psychology
                Cognitive Psychology
                Music Cognition
                Music Perception
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Neuroscience
                Sensory Perception
                Music Perception
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Psychology
                Sensory Perception
                Music Perception
                Social Sciences
                Psychology
                Sensory Perception
                Music Perception
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Neuroscience
                Sensory Perception
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Psychology
                Sensory Perception
                Social Sciences
                Psychology
                Sensory Perception
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Biomechanics
                Biological Locomotion
                Swimming
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Physiology
                Biological Locomotion
                Swimming
                Medicine and Health Sciences
                Physiology
                Biological Locomotion
                Swimming
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Psychology
                Emotions
                Fear
                Social Sciences
                Psychology
                Emotions
                Fear
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Marine Biology
                Marine Conservation
                Earth Sciences
                Marine and Aquatic Sciences
                Marine Biology
                Marine Conservation
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Anatomy
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                Jaw
                Medicine and Health Sciences
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                All relevant data are within the paper and its Supporting Information files.

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