Measuring the impact of viewing wildlife: Do positive intentions equate to long-term changes in conservation behaviour?

  • Hughes K
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Studies exploring the impact of environmental interpretation on visitors’ conservation knowledge, attitudes and behaviour oftenmeasure impacts as visitors exit tourism sites. For ease of measurement, their intentions are often used as indicators of behaviour change. Recent longitudinal studies suggest that intentions may be poor indicators of long-term behaviour change. This study examines both the behavioural intentions and the long-term conservation behaviour of 100 Australian families participating in a wildlife viewing experience. Respondents who reported being negatively or positively emotionally involved in the experience were more likely to indicate an intention to change their behaviour. New ideas about animals and their habitats were also signifi- cantly correlatedwith the development of positive behavioural intentions. Three months later, for 10 of the 13 conservation behaviours explored, the majority of respondents who intended to increase their participation did not. Implications for using intentions as an indicator of programme effectiveness are discussed. The importance of providing post-visit support that incorporates specific strategies, localised examples, petitions and activities to help visitors convert their intentions into behaviour prior to their enthusiasm waning is highlighted. Suggestions are made for more longitudinal studies in this area.

Author-supplied keywords

  • behaviour change
  • behavioural intentions
  • emotional engagement
  • environmental interpretation
  • long-term conservation learning
  • wildlife tourism

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  • Karen Hughes

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