Research Alert

1. The order in which individuals receive information about wildlife may influence their attitude toward wildlife differently which can have implications for how conservationists communicate messages about issues affecting wildlife.

2. In a study on bats, a risk-laden species also facing massive mortalities in North America due to white-nose syndrome (WNS), for people with high biospheric values (where the costs and benefits to ecosystems or the biosphere are at the center of individual decision making) reading a suffering message about WNS first led to a more positive attitude than reading a threat message about rabies first, whereas for people with low biospheric values reading a threat message first led to a more positive attitude than reading a suffering message first.

3. Knowing the target audience and their values can help conservation practitioners think strategically about designing messages on species traditionally portrayed as villains in the media (e.g., bats, sharks, wolves, lions); they should consider placing information that elicits compassion at the end of the message for those who may care less about the species and its conservation, and ensure that compassion-inducing information is the first piece of information for those who care more about the species and conservation.

Study and Journal:  "Scared yet compassionate? Exploring the order effects of threat versus suffering messages on attitude toward scary victims."   from  Science Communication
WCS Co-Author(s):  Heidi Kretser , Conservation Social Scientist

Journal Link: Science Communication

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Science Communication