Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Linking social identity, risk perception, and behavioral psychology to understand predator management by livestock producers.

Abstract

Human behaviors can determine the success of efforts to restore predators to ecosystems. While behaviors such as lethal predator control may impede predator restoration, other land management practices can facilitate coexistence between predators and humans. Socio-psychological theories provide useful tools for understanding and improving these human behaviors. We explore three frameworks to understand what shapes Australian livestock graziers' behaviors with regards to management of the threat that dingoes pose to livestock. These frameworks are the theory of reasoned action (incorporating values and beliefs about dingoes), the social identity approach, and perception of risk. We distributed a survey to Australian graziers by mail and online (n = 138) which allowed recording of information on these three frameworks and their engagement in lethal dingo control. Among the respondents, we found that all three frameworks were linked with lethal dingo control when assessed individually, but when combined in a hierarchical regression, only social identity (specifically, identifying as an "environmentalist" or "pest controller") was significant in predicting behavior. This result reveals the strength of social norms and normative beliefs over perceived risk in shaping behavior. As such, social identity is a useful metric for predicting and understanding environmental management behavior. Determining what these social identities mean in a given context is important for identifying how to implement behavior change to promote evidence-based management that facilitates restoration of wildlife such as predators to landscapes where conflict with humans occurs.