Evaluation of the use of psychometric scales in human–wildlife interaction research to determine attitudes and tolerance toward wildlife

Katherine Whitehouse-Tedd, Jackie Abell, Andrew Dunn

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    13 Citations (Scopus)
    309 Downloads (Pure)


    Studies evaluating human–wildlife interactions (HWIs) in a conservation context often include psychometric scales to measure attitudes and tolerance toward wildlife. However, data quality is at risk when such scales are used without appropriate validation or reliability testing, potentially leading to erroneous interpretation or application of findings. We used 2 online databases (ProQuest Psych Info and Web of Science) to identify published HWI studies that included attitude and tolerance. We analyzed these studies to determine the methods used to measure attitudes or tolerance toward predators and other wildlife; determine the proportion of these methods applying psychometric scales; and evaluate the rigor with which the scales were used by examining whether the psychometric properties of validity and reliability were reported. From 2007 to 2017, 114 published studies were identified. Ninety-four (82%) used questionnaires and many of these (53 [56%]) utilized a psychometric scale. Most scales (39 [74%]) had at least 1 test of reliability reported, but reliance on a single test was notable, contrary to recommended practice. Fewer studies (35 [66%]) reported a test of validity, but this was primarily restricted to structural validity rather than more comprehensive testing. Encouragingly, HWI investigators increasingly utilized the necessary psychometric tools for designing and analyzing questionnaire data, but failure to assess the validity or reliability of psychometric scales used in over one-third of published HWI attitude research warrants attention. We advocate incorporation of more robust application of psychometric scales to advance understanding of stakeholder attitudes as they relate to HWI.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)533-547
    Number of pages15
    JournalConservation Biology
    Issue number2
    Early online date25 Jul 2020
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

    Bibliographical note

    © 2020 The Authors. Conservation Biology published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of Society for Conservation Biology

    This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution‐NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.


    • coexistence
    • coexistencia
    • confiabilidad
    • conflict
    • conflicto
    • depredador
    • métodos de investigación psicológica
    • predator
    • psychological research methods
    • reliability
    • validez
    • validity
    • valor
    • value

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
    • Ecology
    • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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