Specificity and the Cognitive Hierarchy: Value Orientations and the Acceptability of Urban Wildlife Management Actions

Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, United States
Society and Natural Resources (Impact Factor: 1.09). 06/2006; 19(6):515-530. DOI: 10.1080/08941920600663912


This article tests theory suggesting cognitions at the same level of specificity have stronger associations than those at different levels. Using data from a survey of Anchorage, AK, residents (n = 971, response rate = 59%), we explored relationships between general wildlife value orientations and (1) the general acceptability of hunting urban wildlife populations, and (2) specific wildlife management actions (e.g., the acceptability of destroying a bear or moose after specific conflict situations). Consistent with previous research, patterns of basic wildlife beliefs aligned along two distinct value orientations (protection–use and wildlife appreciation) that differentially predicted management action acceptability. As hypothesized, general wildlife value orientations had more influence on the acceptability of hunting to reduce wildlife populations than destroying an animal involved in specific conflict situations. Findings suggested ways to improve measurement, ways to develop broader models that include values-related variables, and the importance of values-level information when addressing urban wildlife conflicts.

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Available from: Jerry J. Vaske, Jul 14, 2014
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    • "Instead, it appears that the siting of wind turbines comes into conflict with other strongly held values. This likely causes cognitive dissonance, which results in an individual ultimately siding with the value or values that rank higher in their internal hierarchy of values [31] [32]. "
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    • "Cognitive hierarchy theory (CHT) is a conceptual framework that organizes values, attitudes, and behaviors as a tiered system and has been commonly applied to support natural resource management (Fulton et al. 1996; McFarlane & Boxall 2003; Whittaker et al. 2006). Values are the CHT's central level and are understood as enduring and fundamental beliefs that influence attitudes and guide behaviors (Rokeach 1973). "
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