Objective. Studies of attitudes and values can make important contributions to emerging multi-level, interdisciplinary approaches to environmental problems. We test a multi-level model using data from a 19-state study on public thoughts toward wildlife in the western United States.

Methods. Data were collected via mail survey administered to residents in each state.

Results. Data support (1) a micro model that proposes values are oriented by two contrasting ideologies—domination versus mutualism—and that these different value orientations lead to different attitudes and behaviors toward wildlife; and (2) a macro model that links forces of modernization (income, education, urbanization) to a population-level shift from domination to mutualism value orientations.

Conclusions. Such a shift would stimulate behavioral, ecological, and institutional effects that are critical in shaping society-environment interactions. Findings suggest that examining human thought processes in relation to broader social and environmental factors holds great promise in extending the application of the social sciences.