Trust and Emotions Predict Support for Large Carnivore Recovery in the Absence of Real Threats

Benjamin Ghasemi, Adam C. Landon, Craig A. Miller, Brent D. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding social support for large carnivores’ recovery can guide policies governing human-predator interactions. We investigated the socio-psychological determinants of support for recovery of black bears, cougars, and gray wolves among residents of Illinois, USA. We contacted a random sample (n = 7,500) of Illinois residents using a repeat mail survey (34% response rate). Structural equation modeling results suggested that our respondents tend to rely more on mental shortcuts (i.e., emotions and social trust) than analytical mental processes (i.e., risk perception) in their judgments of large carnivores’ recovery. Findings of multigroup analysis suggested that similar psychological processes shape respondents’ support for recovery across species. However, among stakeholder groups, the findings implied a prominent role of trust in management agency for the public and hunters, whereas emotions were more influential in shaping hunters’ and livestock producers’ attitudes. We provide specific recommendations for management agencies to develop policies and conservation campaigns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1318-1337
Number of pages20
JournalSociety and Natural Resources
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2021


  • Attitudes
  • emotions
  • heuristics
  • large carnivore
  • perceived risk
  • reintroduction
  • social trust
  • tolerance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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