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More than fear: role of emotions in acceptability of lethal control of wolves

Abstract

Wolf populations have increased in Western Europe and North America. Lethal control of problem wolves is controversial and support varies among stakeholder groups. Knowing why people support or oppose policies can assist managers in dealing with the public. We examined the influence of emotions toward wolves on the acceptability of lethal wolf control. Two perspectives were used to classify emotions. The discrete perspective distinguishes qualitatively different emotions (e.g., fear, joy). The dimensional perspective differentiates emotions on the basis of valence and arousal. We conducted a survey among Dutch (n = 369) and Canadian (n = 208) university students. The independent variables were discrete emotions toward wolves (joy, fear, surprise, anger, disgust, sadness, interest) as well as valence and arousal. The dependent variables were acceptability of lethal control of wolves in three situations that reflect different problem levels (wolves present, wolves kill sheep, wolves kill human). Emotional dispositions toward wolves predicted up to 20 % of the variance of acceptability of lethal control. Disgust in both samples and joy in the Dutch sample were the best predictors. The predictive potential of fear was smaller and confined to two scenarios in the Dutch sample. Discrete emotions predicted acceptability better than valence and arousal. Emotions beyond fear should be considered in wildlife decision-making.

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Correspondence to Maarten H. Jacobs.

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Communicated by C. Gortázar

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Jacobs, M.H., Vaske, J.J., Dubois, S. et al. More than fear: role of emotions in acceptability of lethal control of wolves. Eur J Wildl Res 60, 589–598 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10344-014-0823-2

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Keywords

  • Acceptability
  • Arousal
  • Emotion
  • Valence
  • Wolf
  • Wolf management