Volunteering to help conserve endangered species: An identity approach to human-animal relationships

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    14 Citations (Scopus)


    This study explores identity in providing voluntary help for endangered animal species. Identity is a cornerstone of social psychological explanations of helping behaviour but has not been understood in relation to human–animal relationships. Open-ended questionnaires were administered to 111 volunteers working in a range of international conservation projects aimed at protecting endangered animals. Participants were asked their reasons for volunteering, choice of project, experiences and expectations. Thematic textual analysis explored common features across the dataset. Themes identified were identifying with animals, humans dominating nature and collective identity with the organization and fellow volunteers. The paper suggests social psychological knowledge about helping behaviour be applied to understand human–animal interactions to offer insight into the conditions under which we will engage with conservational and environmental concerns and provide aid. Social psychology has been slow to apply its knowledge to an examination of human responses to the challenge of loss of biodiversity. To act, humans must identify with those they seek to protect.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)157-170
    Number of pages14
    JournalJournal of Community and Applied Social Psychology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2012


    • volunteering
    • wildlife conservation
    • eco-tourism
    • himan-animal interaction
    • Africa
    • mammals

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Psychology(all)
    • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
    • Environmental Science(all)
    • Social Sciences(all)


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