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ABSTRACT

While humans have a long history of anthropomorphizing animals and the use of animal imagery in the marketplace and popular culture is commonplace, the phenomenon has received little attention. This research investigates the role of how consumers respond to anthropomorphic portrayals of animal mascots that differ on their baseline physical resemblance to humans. In order to test this assertion, an experimental study was conducted with 62 undergraduate participants from a large state university in the Northeastern United States. Results from the study indicate that evaluations of anthropomorphic portrayals of animals with a lower baseline physical similarity to humans are less favorable than nonanthropomorphic portrayals. In contrast, evaluations of anthropomorphic portrayals of animals with a higher baseline physical similarity are more favorable than nonanthropomorphic portrayals.