Cartoon birds have long been associated with cute and lovable cartoon characters, but a new study suggests that cartoon birds may actually be the best-selling animal of all time.
“Our research suggests that cartoons have a greater effect on children’s perception of their environment than do other forms of media,” said Dr. Brian McLean, director of the University of Iowa College of Veterinary Medicine and co-author of the new study.
“Cartoons may not be so much fun as they are the perfect expression of a person’s life experiences.”
McLean and colleagues studied the prevalence of cartoon birds among children in a large, ethnically diverse, national sample of children from ages 5 to 17.
They collected data on the frequency of the children’s interactions with cartoon birds, how often each of the five types of cartoon bird interacted with the children, and whether the birds interacted with other children, such as other animals, other animals and birds.
In addition, the researchers measured how often children would have fun with their cartoon birds.
The researchers found that cartoon animals were the most frequently encountered with children, with a whopping 89 percent of the kids who participated in the study meeting the cartoon bird as their primary interaction with the child.
According to McLean and his colleagues, cartoon birds were more likely to interact with children who were older and who were more confident in their own abilities than were other cartoon animals.
Children who interacted with cartoon animals also had more positive feelings about their cartoon bird, which the researchers theorized might explain why they were drawn to it.
“It is possible that cartoon bird interactions are more positive than other types of interactions,” McLean said.
“This could mean that cartooning is a way for children to express themselves and that they may experience positive emotions while they are drawing.
We also found that children who interact with cartoon objects are more likely than other children to have positive feelings for their cartoon avatar.”
“The most likely explanation for these positive feelings is that these experiences are a way to express their own emotional experiences with the cartoon birds and to explore a new way to relate to cartoon animals,” McLeod said.
The researchers also found an important correlation between the amount of time children spent with cartoon bird interaction and the number of cartoons they watched.
More than half of the study participants reported watching at least one cartoon with a cartoon bird on it, with children as young as age 8.
Overall, the study found that while most of the time kids watched cartoons with cartoon avatars, they did not typically spend as much time watching cartoons with other animals.
McLean, a veterinarian, was particularly struck by the high levels of positive feelings children reported with their cartoons.
For example, children reported watching cartoons that were either “cute” or “lovable” more often than other animals (36 percent of all participants reported being in the “cutes” category).
But when the researchers examined the frequency and quality of interactions with the cartoons with animals, the kids did not seem to have such high levels.
Instead, the children reported having fewer negative interactions with their birds (14 percent of participants) than other cartoon avatar types (33 percent).
“We think this suggests that, for some children, cartooning provides a way of expressing themselves and expressing themselves in a positive way,” Mclean said.
The findings were published online March 3 in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.
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