• Open Access

Determining Where the Wild Things will be: Using Psychological Theory to Find Tolerance for Large Carnivores

Authors

  • Jeremy T. Bruskotter,

    Corresponding author
    1. The School of Environment and Natural Resources, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA
    • Correspondence

      Jeremy T. Bruskotter, The School of Environment and Natural Resources, The Ohio State University, 210 Kottman Hall, 2021 Coffey Rd., Columbus, OH 43210, USA. Tel: 614-595-7036; fax: 614-292-7432. E-mail: Bruskotter.9@osu.edu

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  • Robyn S. Wilson

    1. The School of Environment and Natural Resources, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA
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  • Editor Ashwini Chhatre

Abstract

We review recent empirical efforts to understand human tolerance for large, terrestrial carnivores, and highlight how psychological theory on hazard acceptance can help conservation scientists explain, and ultimately increase, human tolerance for these species. For hazards in general, and for carnivores in particular, the majority of variation in acceptability judgments can be explained by the perceptions of risks and benefits associated with the hazard. Factors such as affective (emotional) reaction to a species, personal control over the risks, and trust in managing agencies are important, but secondary factors. Experimental research highlights the importance of communicating the benefits of a species to increase tolerance. In combination, these findings point to a need to rethink communications about carnivores that focus solely on lowering perceived risk by increasing individual control over the hazard. Such efforts may inadvertently decrease tolerance by overlooking the distinct and important role that the positive outcomes (i.e., benefits) associated with carnivores can play when evaluating the acceptability of a particular population or management action.

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