Cambridge University Press
Human perception of biological variation is an important and understudied issue in the conservation and management of natural resources. Here, we took a novel approach by asking 1152 participants, primarily college biology students, to score examples of insect mimicry by the number of distinct kinds of animals they saw. Latent class analysis successfully separated participants based on their accuracy of perception as well as demographic information and opinions about biodiversity. Contrary to expectations, factors such as childhood experience (growing up in urban, suburban or rural areas) did not affect the ability to see biodiversity as much as political views (location on a spectrum from liberal to conservative) or the position that biodiversity is important for the health of the environment. We conclude that research into effective measures of biological education should consider the connection between personal views and perceptions of natural variation.
Wilson, Joseph S.; Jahner, Joshua P.; and Forister, Matthew L., "Human observers differ in ability to perceive insect diversity" (2016). Biology Faculty Publications. Paper 1083.