Evaluation of the use of psychometric scales to determine attitudes towards predators in human-wildlife interaction research

Katherine Whitehouse-Tedd, Jackie Abell, Andrew Dunn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Studies evaluating human-wildlife interactions (HWI) in a conservation context often include psychometric scales to measure attitudes and tolerance towards 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. Using two online databases (ProQuest Psych Info and Web of Science), we analyzed published HWI studies with a conservation focus to; (1) determine the methods used to measure attitudes or tolerance toward predators and other wildlife; (2) determine the proportion of these methods utilizing psychometric scales; and (3) evaluate the rigor with which the scales were used by examining whether the psychometric properties of validity and reliability were reported. For the decade spanning 2007-2017, 114 published studies were identified; 94 (82%) used questionnaires and many of these (53; 56%) utilized a psychometric scale. Most scales (39; 74%) had at least one test of reliability reported, but reliance on a single test was notable, contrary to recommended practice. A smaller majority (35; 66%) reported a test of validity but this was primarily restricted to structural validity rather than more comprehensive testing. Encouragingly, HWI-investigators are increasingly utilizing the necessary psychometric tools for designing and analyzing questionnaire data, but the failure to assess the validity or reliability of psychometric scales used in over one third of published HWI attitude research warrants attention. Incorporation of more robust application of psychometric scales is advocated in order to advance understanding of stakeholder attitudes as they relate to HWI.
Original languageEnglish
JournalConservation Biology
Publication statusSubmitted - 19 May 2020


  • human wildlife coexistence
  • attitudes
  • conflict
  • assessment
  • tolerance
  • psychometric scales

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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  • Activities

    • 1 Membership of working group
    • 1 Membership of network
    • 1 Invited talk

    Conserving Lions: Threats, Solutions & Social Networks

    Jackie Abell (Speaker)
    16 Nov 2018

    Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk

    African Lion Working Group (External organisation)

    Jackie Abell (Member)
    1 Sep 2016

    Activity: MembershipMembership of working group

    International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) (External organisation)

    Jackie Abell (Member)
    1 Oct 2013

    Activity: MembershipMembership of network

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