A social psychological investigation of attitudes of Virginia sportsmen toward game laws and regulations
A mail questionnaire was employed to measure the attitudes of Virginia resident hunters toward game laws and regulations, sportsmanship in hunting, game law violations, game law enforcement, and Virginia game wardens; to determine background and hunting-related correlates of attitudes; and, to compare the ability of three social psychological models to predict the attitudes of Virginia hunters toward game laws and regulations.
An initial mailing of a 17-page questionnaire and three follow-up reminders yielded a usable return of 1,245 (40.0 percent) questionnaires. A comparison of responses of respondents and telephone-interviewed nonrespondents suggested that nonresponse bias was negligible.
Attitudes toward game laws and regulations, sportsmanship in hunting, game law enforcement, and Virginia game wardens were generally favorable. Mean attitude scores were in the upper range of possible mean scores. Attitudes toward game law violations were bimodally distributed. Approximately one-half of the sample was opposed to game laws violations, 11 percent were neutral, and 36.6 percent favored game law violations.
Few background and hunting-related variables were associated or correlated with most or all of the five attitudes. Important negative correlates of most or all of the five attitudes were reported irritating 1977-78 warden contacts; reported irritating warden contacts in the past; the number of times a respondent reported having been bothered by a warden contact; receiving a warning or a citation for violation of a game law or regulation during the period 1973-1978; and, the number of warnings and citations received for violation(s) of game laws and regulations from 1973 to 1978.
The three social psychological models tested were Fishbein’s beliefs-based model, Rosenberg’s value importance-perceived instrumentality model, and a modification of Fishbein's subjective behavioral norm. Population-modal beliefs were employed in Fishbein's beliefs-based model, Rosenberg's model employed hunting activities, and Fishbein's subjective norm model contained modal referents.
Fishbein's beliefs-based model had a correlation of 0.29 with attitudes toward game laws, Rosenberg's model had a correlation of 0.12 with attitudes, and Fishbein’s subjective norm had a correlation of 0.30 with attitudes. The hypothesis that the models were related in an additive manner to attitudes toward game laws was not supported. Rosenberg's model did not achieve significance in a multiple regression model. Fishbein's two models met a retention criterion in the final model but were also interactive as evidenced by the significance of the interaction term. Fishbein’s two models appear to have both additive and multiplicative influences on attitudes toward game laws and regulations. The final model accounted for 16 percent of the variance in attitudes toward game laws and regulations.
Fishbein’s beliefs-based model was supported by a superior performance over a model created by investigator-developed beliefs. A modification of Fishbein’s model of a subjective behavioral norm and a measure of a generalized subjective attitude norm each accounted for nine percent of the variance in attitudes toward game laws and regulations.
Hunter perceptions of warden contacts as being irritating, the number of perceived irritating contacts with wardens, and receiving a citation for violation of game laws and regulations appear be the only significant hunting-related factors identified in this study related to unfavorable attitudes among hunters towara game laws and regulations.