Investigating Attitudes Toward Sharks in Australia

Published on
18 October 2021

Investigating Attitudes Toward Sharks in Australia

Brianna Le Busque, Philip Roetman, Jillian Dorrian, Carla Litchfield


Understanding attitudes toward sharks and the factors associated with them is important for promoting positive attitudes and support for conservation initiatives. We aimed to investigate attitudes toward two different shark species in an Australian context: white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias, a species that can harm humans) and whale sharks (Rhincodon typus, species that cannot harm humans). Four types of attitudes were assessed (naturalistic, moralistic, scientific, and utilitarian) in a between-group survey design with an Australian sample (n = 400; 69.5% female and 30.0% male). Results showed that at least half of the participants in both shark conditions (white and whale) scored positively on each attitude aside from the naturalistic attitude toward white sharks. Pathway diagrams were constructed to identify factors associated with each of the attitudes. The identified associated factors included perception of risk of sharks, acceptance of sharks, shark tourism experiences, connection and relatedness to nature, sensation seeking, and gender. Many of these factors are stable constructs that cannot be altered; however, they allow for researchers, conservation marketers, and policymakers to understand who to target shark conservation campaigns toward. Shark tourism experiences and perception of the risk of sharks are factors that can be altered and should, therefore, be the focus of future research in this area. Assessing four different types of attitudes toward sharks accounted for, and further supported, the complex nature of attitudes toward sharks, and the scale utilized should be considered for future research.

Anthrozoös, DOI: 10.1080/08927936.2021.1986260


Leave a Reply