Cultural Diversity / Attitudes

Cultural Diversity, Cultural Conflict and Attitudes Toward Marine Wildlife

Working Paper #4


Lyndell Nelson Whitley, Jennifer R. Wolch and Roger Salisch

August 1998


As coastal cities increase in cultural diversity, attitudes toward marine wildlife also become more diverse. This can impact marine environments as well as result in cross-cultural misunderstandings and conflicts. A survey of 253 visitors to an urban museum was undertaken to explore their attitudes toward marine wildlife and how such attitudes varied with cultural background. This paper summarizes a bivariate analysis of responses. The analysis showed that aesthetic, environmental, and animal rights attitudes correspond with higher rates of wildlife knowledge, interaction and animal preference. Also, these attitudes were positively related to education and household incomes. Most respondents disagreed with statements reflecting utilitarian or negativistic attitudes, but Hispanic and African-American respondents were less likely to disagree with such statements. This finding was supported by analysis of cultural diversity variables such as religion, nativity and home language. Socio-demographic findings linked variables such as education and income levels to various attitudes, and at the same time, these same variables were also found to be linked to various cultural groups (e.g., Asians and whites had higher education and income, Hispanics and African-Americans had lower levels of education and income). Both cultural diversity and socio-economic variables revealed influences in shaping attitudes. However when the sample was stratified by education, race/ethnicity and other aspects of cultural diversity seemed to exert an independent effect. Finally, most respondents indicated low tolerance for traditional practices that can harm animals. Respondents who displayed negativistic attitudes tended to be slightly more tolerant of cultural practices of other groups, but respondents who supported animal rightist, aesthetic, and/or environmentalist, as well as utilitarian attitudes, were less tolerant of culture-specific practices that harm animals. In addition, there were differences in tolerance levels among cultural groups; Hispanic and African-American respondents disagreed with these traditional practices in larger shares than did their white and Asian counterparts. This lack of tolerance could play an element in cross-cultural conflict over attitudes toward animals.

Keywords: Attitudes toward animals, Cross-cultural attitudes, Museum visitors, Marine wildlife


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