Environmental Management

, Volume 49, Issue 3, pp 663–674 | Cite as

Understanding Factors That Influence Stakeholder Trust of Natural Resource Science and Institutions



Building trust between resource users and natural resource institutions is essential when creating conservation policies that rely on stakeholders to be effective. Trust can enable the public and agencies to engage in cooperative behaviors toward shared goals and address shared problems. Despite the increasing attention that trust has received recently in the environmental management literature, the influence that individual cognitive and behavioral factors may play in influencing levels of trust in resource management institutions, and their associated scientific assessments, remains unclear. This paper uses the case of fisheries management in the northeast to explore the relationships between an individual’s knowledge of the resource, perceptions of resource health, and participatory experience on levels of trust. Using survey data collected from 244 avid recreational anglers in the Northeast U.S., we test these relationships using structural equation modeling. Results indicate that participation in fisheries management is associated with increased trust across all aspects of fisheries management. In addition, higher ratings of resource health by anglers are associated with higher levels of trust of state and regional institutions, but not federal institutions or scientific methods.


Cooperation Fisheries management Recreational anglers Scientific assessment Structural equation modeling Trust 



This research was conducted under NOAA Award NA07NOS4200129. The authors would like to thank the Jacques Cousteau National Estuary Research Reserve (JCNERR), the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association, Brandon Johnson, Caron Chess, and Josh Kohut.


  1. Arlinghaus R (2005) A conceptual framework to identify and understand conflicts in recreational fisheries systems, with implications for sustainable management. Aquatic Resources, Culture and Development 1:145–174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arnstein SR (1969) A ladder of public participation. Journal of the American Planning Association 35:216–224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barber B (1983) The logic and limits of trust. Rutgers University, New Brunswick 189ppGoogle Scholar
  4. Barclay P (2004) Trustworthiness and competitive altruism can also solve the “tragedy of the commons”. Evolution and Human Behavior 25:209–220CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beierle TC (1998) Public participation in environmental decisions: an evaluation framework using social goals. Resources for the Future Press, Washington DC, p 31Google Scholar
  6. Beierle T, Cayford J (2002) Democracy in practice public: participation in environmental decisions. Resources for the Future Press, Washington, DC, p 160Google Scholar
  7. Beierle TC, Konisky DM (2000) Values, conflicts, and trust in participatory environmental planning. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 19:587–602CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Beratan KK (2007) A cognition-based view of decision processes in complex social-ecological systems. Ecology and Society 12(1):27Google Scholar
  9. Blomqvist K (1997) The many faces of trust. Scandinavian Journal of Management 13:271–286CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Carroll MS, Hendrix WG (1992) Federally protected rivers: the need for effective local involvement. Journal of the American Planning Association 58:346–353CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Castelfranchi C, Falcone R (2000) Trust is much more than subjective probability: mental components and sources of trust. Proceedings of the 33rd Google Scholar
  12. Chess C (2000) Evaluating environmental public participation: methodological questions. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 43:769–784CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chess C, Purcell K (1999) Public participation and the environment: Do we know what works? Environmental Science and Technology 33:2685–2692CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cvetkovich G, Winter P (2003) Trust and social representations of the management of threatened and endangered species. Environmental Behavior 35:286–307CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Davenport M, Leahy J, Anderson D, Jakes P (2007) Building trust in natural resource management within local communities: a case study of the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. Environmental Management 39:353–368CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dickson E, Gordon S, Huber GA (2009) Enforcement and compliance in an uncertain world: an experimental investigation. The Journal of Politics 71:1357–1378CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dietz T, Ostrom E, Stern P (2003) The struggle to govern the commons. Science 302:908–1912CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dietz T, Dan A, Shwom R (2007) Support for climate change policy: social psychological and social structural influences. Rural Sociology 72:185–214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dobbs D (2000) The great gulf: fishermen, scientists, and the struggle to revive the world’s greatest Fishery. Island Press, Washington, DC, p 206Google Scholar
  20. Dunn J, Schweitzer M (2005) Feeling and believing: the influence of emotion on trust. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 88:736–748CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Earle TC, Cvetkovich GT (1995) Social trust: toward a more cosmopolitan society. Praeger, Westport, p 228Google Scholar
  22. Eiser JR, Stafford T, Henneberry J, Catney P (2007) Risk perception and trust in the context of urban brownfields. Environmental Hazards 7:150–156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Fedler A, Ditton R (1994) Understanding anlger motivations in fisheries management. Fisheries 19:6–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Haerlin B, Parr D (1999) How to restore public trust in science. Nature 400:499Google Scholar
  25. Hilborn R (2002) The darkside of reference points. Bulletin of Marine Science 70:403–408Google Scholar
  26. Hoppner C (2009) Trust—A monolithic panacea in land use planning? Land Use Policy 26:1046–1054CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hunt S, Frewer LJ, Shepherd R (1999) Public trust in sources of information about radiation risks in the UK. Journal of Risk Research 1:167–181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Johnson B (1999) Exploring dimensionality in the origins of hazard-related trust. Journal of Risk Research 2:325–354CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Johnson TR, van Densen WLT (2007) Benefits and organization of cooperative research. ICES Journal of Marine Science 64:862CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Jöreskog KG, Moustaki I (2001) Factor analysis of ordinal variables: a comparison of three approaches. Multivariate Behavioral Research 36:347–387CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kaplan IM, McCay BJ (2004) Cooperative research, co-management and the social dimension of fisheries science and management. Marine Policy 28:257–258CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kim KS (2004) AMOS analysis of structural equation modeling. Hannarae, SeoulGoogle Scholar
  33. Lawrence R, Daniels S, Stankey G (1997) Procedural justice and public involvement in natural resource decision making. Society and Natural Resources 10:577–589CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Leahy J, Anderson D (2008) Trust meanings in community-water resource management agency relationships. Landscape and Urban Planning 87:100–107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. McAllister RRJ, Gordon IJ, Janssen MA (2005) Trust and cooperation in natural resource management: The case of agistment in rangelands. In: Zerger A, Argent RMGoogle Scholar
  36. McKnight DH, Chervany NL (1996) The meanings of trust. Tech Rep MISRC working paper series. Calson School of Management, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, p 32Google Scholar
  37. Models for mining equipment selection (2005) In: Zerger A, Argent RM (eds) MODSIM 2005 International congress on modelling and simulation. Modelling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand, pp. 170–176Google Scholar
  38. Myers R, Hutchings J, Barrowman NJ (1997) Why do fish stocks collapse? The example of cod in Atlantic Canada. Ecological Applications 7:91–106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. National Research Council (NRC) (2008) The effects of public participation. In: Dietz T, Stern PC (eds) Public participation in environmental assessment and decision-making. National Research Council Press, Washington, DC, p 322Google Scholar
  40. Needham MD, Vaske JJ (2008) Hunters’ perceptions of similarity and trust in wildlife agencies and personal risk associated with chronic wasting disease. Society and Natural Resources 21(3):197–214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Ostrom E (2007) Collective action and local development processes. Sociologica 3:1–32Google Scholar
  42. Ostrom E, Walker J (2003) Trust and reciprocity: interdisciplinary lessons for experimental research. In: Ostrom E, Walker J (eds) The Russell sage foundation series on trust. Russell Sage Foundation, New York, p 409Google Scholar
  43. Ostrom E, Norberg J, Wilson J, Walker B (2008) Diversity and resilience of social-ecological systems. In: Norberg J, Cumming G (eds) Complexity theory for a sustainable future. Columbia University Press, New York, pp 105–136Google Scholar
  44. Owen A, Virderas J (2008) Trust, cooperation, and implementation of sustainability programs: the case of Local Agenda 21. Ecological Economics 68:259–272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Rousseau DM, Sitkin SB, Burt RS, Camerer C (1998) Not so different after all: a cross-discipline view of trust. Academy of Management Review 23:393–404CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Rowe G, Frewer JL (2000) Public participation methods: a framework for evaluation. Science Technology and Human Values 25:13–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Salisbury WD, Pearson RA, Pearson AW, Miller DW (2001) Perceived security and World Wide Web purchase intention. Industrial Management and Data Systems 101:65–176Google Scholar
  48. Schwarz N, Clore GL (1983) Mood, misattribution, and judgments of well-being: Informative and directive functions of affective states. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 45:513–523CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Skogen K (2001) Who’s afraid of the big, bad wolf? Young peoples’ responses to the conflicts over large carnivores in eastern Norway. Rural Sociology 66:203–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Skogen K, Thrane C (2008) Wolves in context: using survey data to situate attitudes within a wider cultural framework. Society and Natural Resources 21:17–33Google Scholar
  51. Slovic P (1993) Perceived risk, trust and democracy. Risk Analysis 13:675–682CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Smith P, McDonough M (2001) Beyond public participation: fairness in natural resource decision making. Society and Natural Resources 14:239–249CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFW) (2006) National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation. Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  54. Webler T, Tuler S (2000) Fairness and competence in citizen participation: reflections from a case study. Administration and Society 32:56–595CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Wilson DC, Nielsen JR, Degnbol P (eds) (2003) The fisheries co-management experience: accomplishments, challenges and prospects. Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht, p 324Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Natural Resources and Environmental ManagementUniversity of Hawaii, ManoaHonoluluUSA
  2. 2.Department of Human EcologyRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA
  3. 3.Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural ResourcesRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA

Personalised recommendations