Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Assessing public engagement with science in a university primate research centre in a national zoo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Recent years have seen increasing encouragement by research institutions and funding bodies for scientists to actively engage with the public, who ultimately finance their work. Animal behaviour as a discipline possesses several features, including its inherent accessibility and appeal to the public, that may help it occupy a particularly successful niche within these developments. It has also established a repertoire of quantitative behavioural methodologies that can be used to document the public's responses to engagement initiatives. This kind of assessment is becoming increasingly important considering the enormous effort now being put into public engagement projects, whose effects are more often assumed than demonstrated. Here we report our first attempts to quantify relevant aspects of the behaviour of a sample of the hundreds of thousands of visitors who pass through the ‘Living Links to Human Evolution Research Centre’ in Edinburgh Zoo. This University research centre actively encourages the public to view ongoing primate research and associated science engagement activities. Focal follows of visitors and scan sampling showed substantial ‘dwell times’ in the Centre by common zoo standards and the addition of new engagement elements in a second year was accompanied by significantly increased overall dwell times, tripling for the most committed two thirds of visitors. Larger groups of visitors were found to spend more time in the Centre than smaller ones. Viewing live, active science was the most effective activity, shown to be enhanced by novel presentations of carefully constructed explanatory materials. The findings emphasise the importance and potential of zoos as public engagement centres for the biological sciences.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere34505
JournalPLoS One
Volume7
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Apr 2012

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Social learning from media: the need for a culturally diachronic developmental psychology

    Nielsen, M., Fong, F. T. K. & Whiten, A., 24 Jun 2021, (E-pub ahead of print) Advances in Child Development and Behavior. JAI Press

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

  2. A deepening understanding of animal culture suggests lessons for conservation

    Brakes, P., Carroll, E. L., Dall, S., Keith, S., McGregor, P., Mesnick, S., Noad, M., Rendell, L., Robbins, M., Rutz, C., Thorton, A., Whiten, A., Whiting, M., Aplin, L., Bearhop, S., Ciucci, P., Fishlock, V., Ford, J., Notarbartolo di Sciara, G., Simmonds, M. & 5 others, Spina, F., Wade, P., Whithead, H., Williams, J. & Garland, E. C., 28 Apr 2021, In: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 288, 1949, 10 p., 20202718.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

  3. The psychological reach of culture in animals’ lives

    Whiten, A., 27 Apr 2021, (E-pub ahead of print) In: Current Directions in Psychological Science. OnlineFirst, 17 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  4. The burgeoning reach of animal culture

    Whiten, A., 2 Apr 2021, In: Science. 372, 6537, eabe6514.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

  5. Chimpanzees’ behavioral flexibility, social tolerance and use of tool-composites in a progressively challenging foraging problem

    Harrison, R. A., van Leeuwen, E. & Whiten, A., 19 Feb 2021, In: iScience. 24, 2, 102033.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Related by journal

  1. Will Africans take COVID-19 vaccination?

    Anjorin, A. A., Odetokun, I. A., Abioye, A. I., Elnadi, H., Umoren, M. V., Damaris, B. F., Eyedo, J., Umar, H. I., Nyandwi, J. B., Abdalla, M. M., Tijani, S. O., Awiagah, K. S., Idowu, G. A., Fabrice, S. N. A., Maisara, A. M. O., Razouqi, Y., Mhgoob, Z. E., Parker, S., Asowata, O. E., Adesanya, I. O. & 9 others, Obara, M. A., Jaumdally, S., Kitema, G. F., Okuneye, T. A., Mbanzulu, K. M., Daitoni, H., Hallie, E. F., Mosbah, R. & Fasina, F. O., 1 Dec 2021, In: PLoS ONE. 16, 12, 15 p., e0260575.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  2. Batch-produced, GIS-informed range maps for birds based on provenanced, crowd-sourced data inform conservation assessments

    Huang, R. M., Medina, W., Brooks, T. M., Butchart, S. H. M., Fitzpatrick, J. W., Hermes, C., Jenkins, C. N., Johnston, A., Lebbin, D. J., Li, B. V., Ocampo-Peñuela, N., Parr, M., Wheatley, H., Wiedenfeld, D. A., Wood, C. & Pimm, S. L., 24 Nov 2021, In: PLoS ONE. 16, 11, 19 p., e0259299.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  3. Defining dual-axis landscape gradients of human influence for studying ecological processes

    Padilla, B. J., Sutherland, C. & Bossart, J. L. (ed.), 18 Nov 2021, In: PLoS ONE. 16, 11, 17 p., e0252364.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  4. Alternative method for assessment of southwestern Atlantic humpback whale population status

    Bortolotto, G. A., Thomas, L., Hammond, P. S. & Zerbini, A., 17 Nov 2021, In: PLoS ONE. 16, 11, 13 p., e0259541.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  5. Modelling the impacts of climate change on thermal habitat suitability for shallow-water marine fish at a global scale

    Lavender, E., Fox, C. & Burrows, M., 4 Oct 2021, In: PLoS ONE. 16, 10, 25 p., e0258184.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Related by journal

  1. PLoS ONE (Journal)

    Joanna Louise Kershaw (Reviewer)

    18 Mar 2019

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

  2. PLoS One (Journal)

    Paula Jean Miles (Member of editorial board)

    2019

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

  3. PLoS ONE (Journal)

    Catharine Penelope Cross (Member of editorial board)

    1 Sep 2018 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  4. PLoS ONE (Journal)

    Will Cresswell (Reviewer)

    23 May 2018

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

  5. PLoS ONE (Journal)

    Barbara Dritschel (Member of editorial board)

    May 2018 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

ID: 19324405

Top