The Influence of Knowledge on Young People's Perceptions About Wildlife

Knowledge and attitudes are major components of environmental perception and are important influences on each other. Knowledge about ecological concepts, wildlife, and endangered and threatened species was measured, using 1,300 8th-graders in Broward County, Florida, as the sample group. Knowledge scores were associated with attitudes, non-consumptive attitude orientations, involvement in animal activities, and other variables. Knowledge plays a relatvely minor role in predicting attitudes. Knowledge was significantly related to 16 to 25 attitude items, but the associations were weak, indicating that other factors may be more important determinants of attitude. Non-consumptive users of wildlife greatly outnumbered consumptive users and were more knowledgeable. Sex, race and parental education were the most important demographic predictors of knowledge. Urban and rural differences appear to be significant, but this finding is tentative due to the small number of rural residents in the population Parental association with an animal or wildlife-oriented organizations was not significantly related to knowledge. Participation in animal-related activities showed the highest association with knowledge of any of the variables examined. Level of participation was associated with 18 of 25 attitude items, but the correlations were weak. Knowledge was not associated with the frequency of consumptive activities like hunting and fishing but was associated with hiking, reading about wildlife, and having pets.

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