New York, Aug 8 (IANS) Ominous background music present in shark documentaries may affect viewers’ attitude and could thus hamper people’s willingness to participate in conservation efforts, reveal researchers.
For the study, the team recruited over 2,000 online participants to share their attitudes toward sharks after watching a 60-second video clip of sharks swimming.
They compared the results of the participants who watched the clip set to ominous background music to those watching the same video clip set to uplifting background music, or silence.
The findings showed that participants who viewed the video with ominous background music rated sharks more negatively than those who viewed the clip with uplifting music or no music et all.
Despite the ongoing need for shark conservation and management, prevailing negative sentiments marginalise these animals and legitimise permissive exploitation, the researchers said in a paper published in the journal PLOS ONE.
Further, these negative attitudes arise from an instinctive, yet exaggerated fear, which is validated and reinforced by disproportionate and sensationalistic news coverage of shark ‘attacks’ and by highlighting shark-on-human violence in popular movies and documentaries.
“Given that nature documentaries are often regarded as objective and authoritative sources of information, it is critical that documentary filmmakers and viewers are aware of how the soundtrack can affect the interpretation of the educational content,” said lead author Andrew Nosal, scientist at the University of California, San Diego.