Integrating emotional affect into bear viewing management and bear safety education
John M. Nettles, Park Solutions Lab at the Clemson University Institute for Parks, Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management, Clemson University, Clemson, SC, USA
Matthew T. J. Brownlee, Park Solutions Lab at the Clemson University Institute for Parks, Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management, Clemson University, Clemson, SC, USA
Jeffrey C. Hallo, Park Solutions Lab at the Clemson University Institute for Parks, Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management, Clemson University, Clemson, SC, USA
David S. Jachowski, Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation, Clemson University, Clemson, SC, USA
Ryan L. Sharp, Applied Park Science Lab, Department of Horticulture and Natural Resources, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, USA
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The popularity of viewing wildlife, specifically brown bears (Ursus arctos
), is increasing rapidly throughout North America. In addition, population distributions of both humans and brown bears are expanding, creating larger areas of overlap and an increased possibility of human-bear interactions. In order to prevent negative encounters and injury to either species, park managers must continue to work to encourage appropriate behavior among local citizens as well as park visitors. Human behavior, however, is a result of many complex factors, including emotion and cognition. Despite this, the effects of emotions on human-wildlife conflict remain unstudied and therefore may limit success of any mitigation efforts. In this study we employed a quantitative self-assessment questionnaire, distributed online to a representative sample of the general U.S. public, to understand the relationship between emotion and behavior within the context of human encounters with bears. Questionnaires used video clips as visual methods to illustrate a variety of brown bear encounter scenarios based on setting, the bear’s age or sex class, and bear behavior. Following each video, respondents were asked to rate the intensity of their affective responses using the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule and then rate the likelihood of performing several listed actions as well as the perceived appropriateness of each action. Results demonstrate significant variation in negative affect and relative consistency in positive affect across brown bear encounter scenarios. In general, respondents seemed to be aware of appropriate behavior during encounters with brown bears, but affective responses may limit their ability to behave accordingly. Further, feelings of fear and hostility increased the impact of current emotion on in-the-moment decisions. These results and suggestions provided by respondents were then used to create a set of meaningful recommendations to improve the efficacy of current bear management and safety education.
affect; bear safety; brown bears; emotion; human behavior; human-wildlife conflict
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