Public attitudes and decision making in environmental resource planning — a perception gap

K. A. Alexander, S. Freeman, D. L. Angel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent research has suggested that decision makers may misunderstand public attitudes regarding natural resource use. Using research on Integrated Multi-trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) in six European countries, we illustrate one case in which this is true. We describe two studies: one revealing stakeholders’ beliefs about the environmental sustainability of IMTA in addition to their beliefs regarding public perceptions of the same; and a second investigating perceptions held by the public. In comparing the studies, we identified a gap between what decision-makers believe the public perceives and what the public actually perceives. There is reason to believe that this phenomenon is not sector-specific because policy and planning mechanisms for incorporating the views of stakeholders and the larger public tend to be the similar, regardless of sector. This may cause a dilemma for developing natural-resource based industries, as well as public policy. For this reason, we suggest, as an alternative to over-reliance on citizens’ initiative, making greater use of mechanisms that actively elicit opinions, such as deliberative consultation/engagement models that both inform and elicit pReferences

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-43
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
StatePublished - Feb 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers for their in-depth and thoughtful comments. The research leading to these results was undertaken as part of the IDREEM project (Increasing Industrial Resource Efficiency in European Mariculture, ) and has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement no. 308571. The funding source played no role in the research.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd


  • Governance
  • Natural resources
  • Perception gap
  • Public attitudes
  • Sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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