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Humans and Sharks

Changing Public Perceptions and Overcoming Fear to Facilitate Shark Conservation

Rainer Panoch and Elissa L. Pearson

There is worldwide concern regarding the conservation status of sharks. Public perceptions of sharks, often based on inaccurate negative stereotypes transmitted through the media and popular culture, appear to be limiting support for their conservation. Yet, there is a paucity of research exploring the knowledge and attitudes of the general public regarding sharks and their conservation, as well as approaches to improve these factors and encourage greater conservation support. The primary aim of this review is to explore the role that psychology, education, and the media might play in engendering greater support for shark conservation through increasing knowledge and shifting attitudes relating to sharks, ultimately increasing public support for, and participation in, shark conservation. Directions for future research to further understand and enhance public engagement with shark conservation issues are also discussed.