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What is an Endangered Species?

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The query “What is an endangered species?” is quickly transformed into a far tougher question: How much loss should a species endure before we agree that the species deserves special protections and concerted effort for its betterment?

Judgments about acceptable risk in the context of policy may be influenced by law makers, policy makers, experts and the general public. While significant effort has been made to understand public attitudes on acceptable risk of environmental pollution, little is known about such attitudes in the context of species’ endangerment. We present survey results on these attitudes in the context of United States’ legal-political apparatus intended to mitigate species endangerment. The results suggest that the general public exhibit lower tolerance for risk than policy makers and experts. Results also suggest that attitudes about acceptable risk for species endangerment are importantly influenced by one’s knowledge about the environment and social identity. That result is consistent with notions that risk judgments are a synthesis of facts and values and that knowledge is associated with one’s social identity. We explain the implications of these findings for understanding species endangerment across the planet.

Document: What-is-an-Endangered-Species.pdf  PDF icon

Author(s): Tom Offer-Westort, Adam Feltz, Jeremy T Bruskotter, and John A Vucetich

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