I wonder if I’m the only one who hums the ‘Jaws’ theme whenever I see a shark… pic.twitter.com/NmcVSjhWxB— sweet_christine (@sirensong1208) July 25, 2016
In a study titled ‘The Effect of Background Music in Shark Documentaries on Viewers,' researchers say their experiment proves that the image of sharks as dreadful killers is related to the consistent use of “ominous” music in films.
“This is the first study to demonstrate empirically that the connotative attributes of background music accompanying shark footage affect viewers’ attitudes toward sharks,” lead author Andrew P. Nosal said.
The experiment may seem a trivial, suggest the scientists, but the results point out how a popular image of a living, swimming, never-sleeping, machine-like predator is a problem for species. The “exaggerated” fear of sharks, not based on real-life experiences, stops people from donating to foundations engaged in conservation of sharks, which are widely poached and, in some cases, in danger of extinction.
“Despite the ongoing need for shark conservation and management, prevailing negative sentiments marginalize these animals and legitimize permissive exploitation,” Nosal wrote. Statistics show that a person is more likely to die as a result of an attack by a snake, spider, cow or a dog.
“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.”