THE EFFECT OF PERCEIVED CONFLICT ON EVALUATIONS OF NATURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT GOALS
AdvisorDaniel, Terry C.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractNatural resource management requires the simultaneous consideration of many different and often conflicting goals. For resource decisions to accurately reflect public values and desires, a systematic method is needed for assessing the importance which public groups attach to different management goals. Direct judgments of the importance of goals are often used as weights in additive utility models for evaluating alternative resource decisions. The overall value of each alternative is assessed by assigning it a value with respect to each relevant goal, multiplying each value by the corresponding goal's importance weight, and summing the weighted values. The validity of this procedure depends on the assumption that each goal's importance is judged independently of all other goals and is not affected by perceived conflicts between goals. Otherwise, the importance of some goals will be overestimated (double-counted). This study tested the validity of this assumption for direct judgments of the importance of forest management goals. Subjects read a description of a hypothetical national forest and rated the importance of six forest management goals on a ten-point scale. They also rated the amount of conflict between each possible pair of goals. The management scenarios were varied to represent two levels of conflict between a wilderness preservation goal and a timber production goal, and two levels of scarcity of existing wilderness areas in the region of the national forest. The conflict and scarcity manipulations were crossed, creating four conflict/scarcity conditions in a two-by-two ANOVA design. Analysis showed that both conflict and scarcity produced effects on ratings of the management goals' importance. The effects differed depending on the nature of the individual goal. In particular, goals which conflicted with wilderness preservation were rated lower in importance when the conflict was higher and when wilderness scarcity was high. This suggests that people discount the importance of goals which are perceived as conflicting with a highly valued goal, such as wilderness preservation. Importance ratings would therefore underestimate the importance of goals such as timber production if they were used as weights in an additive utility model. Further analysis revealed the presence of a single strong dimension underlying the ratings of conflict between goals. This dimension also seemed to be related to judgments of goal importance. It is possible that both conflict and importance judgments are made with respect to general cognitive attributes of the goals (for example preservation/utilization orientation). The results of this study show that direct judgments of goal importance may not satisfy the requirements of additive utility models, and that public perception of conflict between goals must be taken into account when interpreting judgments of the importance of management goals. A resource planner must be aware of what preconceptions the public holds about conflicts between goals and how these preconceptions affect the expressed importance of the goals.
Degree ProgramGraduate College