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Decision biases and environmental attitudes among conservation professionals

Filewod, Ben (2023) Decision biases and environmental attitudes among conservation professionals. Conservation Science and Practice, 5 (6). ISSN 2578-4854

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Identification Number: 10.1111/csp2.12921


The importance of human behavior in biodiversity conservation is widely recognized, but there is little published evidence about how conservation professionals make decisions when conservation values are at stake. We take a behavioral economics approach, administering simplified decision problems (“choice experiments”), questions about choice-relevant preferences and views (“elicitation questions”), and a psychometric scale (the New Ecological Paradigm scale) to a difficult-to-recruit sample (n = 100) of Canadian professionals involved in managing Rangifer tarandus caribou (Woodland Caribou). Our choice experiments reveal the importance of several decision biases (risk aversion, commission bias, and a bias towards fairness) in this influential group of conservation stakeholders. We then examine in-sample differences between categories of professional affiliation (e.g., resource industry, environmental nongovernmental organization, or federal/provincial government), finding significant variation in responses to one elicitation question (reference points) and in psychometric scores. We discuss the implications of our findings for choice in conservation practice and for multi-stakeholder conservation policy. Comparing our findings to prior work on choice under uncertainty in non-conservation contexts suggests a possible replication problem in applying behavioral science insights to conservation problems, pointing to the need for a systematic research program. Results from development testing with a convenience sample of university students are presented for comparison throughout the study.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2022 The Author.
Divisions: Grantham Research Institute
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
H Social Sciences
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Date Deposited: 28 Jul 2022 13:51
Last Modified: 15 Apr 2024 17:09

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