Measuring emotion at the zoo

Document Type


Publication details

Smith, L, Weiler, B & Ham, S 2008, 'Measuring emotion at the zoo', Journal of the International Zoo Educators Association, vol. 44, pp. 26-31.

Peer Reviewed



Emotions – happiness, surprise, anger, fear, wonder – play an important role in human experience. The feeling of emotions can lead to changes in the way people think and feel and are also important in forming memories (Petty and Cacioppo 1986; Cahill and McGaugh 1995; McGaugh 2006). Many zoo educators intuitively know this and, as a result, often design experiences that evoke a range of emotional responses, with the hope of delivering memorable experiences that cause visitors to think and feel differently about wildlife. However, zoo researchers have yet to produce findings that can inform zoos on how to elicit and then harness emotional arousal to achieve their often-stated aims of influencing visitors’ memories, thoughts and attitudes.

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