Chapter 12: The relative importance of likeability and endangerment for payments to conserve species
The demand for commodities depends on their inherent attributes or characteristics (Lancaster, 1966). The demand for conserving wildlife species is no exception. In the academic/scientific literature, debate has occurred about the extent to which the level of support for the conservation of different wildlife species is determined by their likeability and by their conservation status (see Chapter 11). Metrick and Weitzman (1996) concluded that likeability plays a more important role in the allocation of US public funds for the conservation of endangered wildlife species than does their degree of endangerment. On the other hand, Tkac (1998) found that information about the degree of endangerment of species to be more important in influencing the stated willingness of individuals to pay for the conservation of species, than information about their physical attributes. In the literature, it is claimed that humans find species that are more human-like (higher-order species or physically attractive) to be more likeable (Kellert, 1980; Plous, 1993; Gunnthorsdottir, 2001; also see Chapters 13 and 14 in this book), and thus they are likely to attract more conservation support than other species. Therefore, Tkac’s results imply that the likeability of a wildlife species has less influence in determining the willingness of individuals to pay for its conservation than its perceived degree of endangerment. In considering the public’s support for the conservation of wildlife species, it is important to establish how sensitive this is to knowledge of attributes associated with the individual species.
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