Identifying stakeholder beliefs and attitudes is critical for resolving management conflicts. Debate over outdoor cat management is often described as a conflict between two groups, environmental advocates and animal welfare advocates, but little is known about the variables predicting differences among these critical stakeholder groups. We administered a mail survey to randomly selected stakeholders representing both of these groups (n = 1,596) in Florida, where contention over the management of outdoor cats has been widespread. We used a structural equation model to evaluate stakeholder intention to support non-lethal management. The cognitive hierarchy model predicted that values influenced beliefs, which predicted general and specific attitudes, which in turn, influenced behavioral intentions. We posited that specific attitudes would mediate the effect of general attitudes, beliefs, and values on management support. Model fit statistics suggested that the final model fit the data well (CFI = 0.94, RMSEA = 0.062). The final model explained 74% of the variance in management support, and positive attitudes toward lethal management (humaneness) had the largest direct effect on management support. Specific attitudes toward lethal management and general attitudes toward outdoor cats mediated the relationship between positive (p<0.05) and negative cat-related impact beliefs (p<0.05) and support for management. These results supported the specificity hypothesis and the use of the cognitive hierarchy to assess stakeholder intention to support non-lethal cat management. Our findings suggest that stakeholders can simultaneously perceive both positive and negative beliefs about outdoor cats, which influence attitudes toward and support for non-lethal management.
|Publication Title||PLoS One|
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