Date of Award

May 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management

Committee Member

Matthew T.J. Brownlee

Committee Member

Jeffrey C. Hallo

Committee Member

David S. Jachowski

Committee Member

Ryan L. Sharp

Committee Member

Joy A. Erlenbach


The popularity of viewing wildlife, specifically brown bears (Ursus arctos), is increasing rapidly throughout North America, from Yellowstone National Park (NP) to Denali National Park. In addition, population distributions of both humans and brown bears are expanding, creating larger areas of overlap and an increased possibility of human-bear interactions. In order to prevent negative encounters and injury to either species, park managers must continue to work to encourage appropriate behavior among local residents as well as park visitors. Human behavior, however, is a result of many complex factors, including emotion and cognition. Despite this, the effects of emotions on human-wildlife conflict remain unstudied and therefore may limit success of any mitigation efforts. This thesis employs a quantitative self-assessment questionnaire within a sequential exploratory design to understand the relationship between emotion and behavior within the context of human encounters with bears. Results demonstrate significant variation in negative affect across bear encounter scenarios and highlight several areas of uncertainty among respondents. These results are used to develop a set of meaningful recommendations to improve the efficacy of current bear management and safety education.



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