Understanding the cognitive basis for human-wildlife relationships as a key to successful protected-area management

T.L. Teel, M.J. Manfredo, F.S. Jensen, A.E. Buijs, A. Fischer, C. Riepe, R. Arlinghaus, M.H. Jacobs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Wildlife is a critical component of protected areas worldwide. It can serve not only as a primary attraction or an enjoyable part of the visitor experience but also as a source of conflict. Managing wildlife in this context requires a broadbased approach that can account for the myriad factors underlying conservation effectiveness, including the nature of people's relationships with wildlife. These relationships stem from the cognitive foundation that shapes human behavior toward wildlife. Our theory of wildlife value orientations contends that, at an individual level, broad cultural ideals or value orientations form the basis for more specific cognitions that in turn drive individual action. We extend this cognitive hierarchy framework to account for the role of societal forces that give rise to cultural values and their orientations over time. Using empirical data from two cases, we surview this micro-macro approach and explore its implications for protected-area management. First, data from a nineteen-state study conducted in 2004 via mail survey in the United States show how two contrasting orientations—domination and mutualism—produce different attitudes and behaviors toward wildlife. Hierarchical linear modeling of these data supports a societal-level shift from domination to mutualism in response to modernization. Second, a 2007-8 exploratory application of our approach in ten European countries provides further evidence of the role of value orientations in shaping individual response to wildlife issues. Together, these studies highlight the importance of multilevel models for exploring the social aspects of wildlife and protected-area management.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-123
JournalInternational Journal of Sociology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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