Cultural Diversity / Attitudes

Designing the "Attitudes Toward Marine Wildlife Survey"

Working Paper #2

Lyndell Nelson Whitley, Unna Lassiter and Jennifer R. Wolch

August 1998

 


Nature-society relations are often manifest in attitudes expressed toward animals. Failure to understand the parameters of cultural diversity in attitudes toward animals, and the behavioral practices linked to such attitudinal diversity can result in cross-cultural conflict. Greater knowledge about the formation of attitudes may provide a valuable key for resolution. This paper reports on the design of a survey of attitudes involving 253 visitors to a large metropolitan science museum. Preparations for the survey included in-depth interviews with science and community experts and their review of the survey instrument. The questionnaire inquired into basic environmental values, knowledge about animals, species preferences, and interactions with animals. It was based on a typology of five attitudes: animal rightist, negativistic, environmentalist, utilitarian and aesthetic. A section on cross-cultural perspectives also queried respondents about whether they considered it was right or wrong for other cultural groups to engage in traditional practices that sometimes harm animals.  Finally questions on personal characteristics were designed to discover the commitment of respondents to animal issues and past history with animals, and basic demographic and socioeconomic characteristics. This latter subsection included questions on country of origin and duration of US and local residency, in order to provide insight into the diversity of nature-society traditions across cultures and culture-specific attitudes toward marine wildlife.

Keywords: Survey design, Attitudes toward Animals, Cross-cultural attitudes, Museum visitors, Marine wildlife

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