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What motivates the masses: understanding why people contribute to conservation citizen science projects

Maund, Phoebe R, Irvine, Katherine N., Lawson, Becki, Steadman, Janna, Risley, Kate, Cunningham, Andrew A., Davies, Zoe G. (2020) What motivates the masses: understanding why people contribute to conservation citizen science projects. Biological Conservation, 246 . ISSN 0006-3207. (doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2020.108587) (KAR id:80953)

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Participation in conservation citizen science projects is growing rapidly and approaches to project design are diversifying. There has been a recent shift towards projects characterised by contributors collecting data in isolation and submitting findings online, with little training or opportunities for direct social interaction with other citizen scientists. While research is emerging on developing citizen science projects by optimising technological modalities, little consideration has been given to understanding what motivates individuals to voluntarily contribute data. Here, we use the Volunteer Functions Inventory, combined with open-ended questions, to demonstrate that the two strongest motivations underpinning participation, for both individuals who contribute data systematically (regularly; n=177) and opportunistically (ad hoc basis; n=218), are ‘Values’ and ‘Understanding’. People take part in such projects because they have an intrinsic value for the environment and want to support research efforts (representing ‘Values’), as well as wanting to learn and gain knowledge (signifying ‘Understanding’). Unlike more traditional citizen science projects that involve specific training and considerable time investments, contributors to these newer types of project are not motivated by the potential to develop their career or opportunities for social interaction. The person36 level characteristics of contributors considered in this study did not reliably forecast levels of motivation, suggesting that predicting high levels of motivation is inherently more complex than is often speculated. We recommend avenues for future research that may further enhance our understanding of contributor motivations and the characteristics that may underpin levels of motivation.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1016/j.biocon.2020.108587
Uncontrolled keywords: connectedness to nature, environment, human behaviour, environmental psychology, volunteer functions inventory, wildlife health
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH75 Conservation (Biology)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
Depositing User: Zoe Davies
Date Deposited: 22 Apr 2020 11:12 UTC
Last Modified: 17 Nov 2023 12:34 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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