Emotional Responses and Lasting Impressions of Human Encounte ...

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Abstract

Despite an emphasis on explaining wildlife tourists’ experiences encountering a charismatic animal in the wild, there is a lack of research investigating these encounters amongst individuals not visiting nature-based tourism destinations. Most humans come across animals daily, yet we know little about the characteristics of memorable encounters with a wild animal. Furthermore, there is a lack of understanding of our emotional responses to these encounters and any potential lasting impact of how these individuals think about their relationship to the natural world following these meetings. To begin to investigate this area, we conducted a qualitative study of non-wildlife tourists’ experiences of their encounters with wild animals. Contrary to existing research, when asked to describe their emotional responses to these encounters, participants most frequently referred to fear. Surprisingly, when asked how this encounter might have changed their relationship to the natural world, participants referred to feelings of interconnectedness and respect.