Adolescents' Beliefs about the Wolf: Investigating the Potential of Human-Wolf Coexistence in the European South
SourceSociety and Natural Resources
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Previous research revealed a rural–urban divide in the acceptance of the wolf. We investigated adolescents’ beliefs about the wolf in rural and urban areas of Greece and Italy. By using a multiple-choice questionnaire, we attempted to reconstruct the conflictual nature of opposing beliefs about the wolf. For each item, there was one choice indicating a “pro-wolf” stance, one corresponding to an “anti-wolf” disposition, and a third, “neutral” choice. Respondents were clustered in a “pro-wolf,” an “anti-wolf,” and a “neutral” group. Rural or urban residence did not affect the classification of participants. Average responses for each cluster did reveal some degree of dispersal over rival positions. The permeability of “pro-wolf,” “anti-wolf,” and “neutral” positions might be regarded as a manifestation of the phenomenon of “cognitive polyphasia,” which refers to the cohabitation of inconsistent or contradictory beliefs. Implications for environmental education and outreach campaigns are discussed.