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Visitor Compliance With Fire Restrictions: An Observational Study Using Verbal Messages and Symbolic Signage
Fire Social Science Research From the Pacific Southwest Research Station: Studies Supported by National Fire Plan Funds
  • Sara S. Cohn, California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo
  • William W. Hendricks, California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo
  • Deborah J. Chavez, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service
Publication Date
8-1-2008
Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of message type and source on visitor compliance with fire restrictions at the Applewhite Picnic Area, Cajon Ranger District, San Bernardino National Forest, California. Six treatments were administered during summer 2005 involving verbal messages (awareness of consequences and altruistic messages) and signage for primarily Hispanic recreation visitors. Six treatment groups were assigned: sign only, sign/verbal moral, sign/verbal fear, no sign/verbal moral, no sign/verbal fear, and no sign/no verbal (control). During treatments using signage, two signs containing “no fire” symbols were posted in each experimental zone. Visitor behavior was recorded by independent observers using a Behavior Anchored Rating Scale and grouped into three general compliance categories: superior compliance, marginal compliance, and poor compliance (n = 263). The results, using a 2 × 3 ANOVA, indicated (a) a significant interaction effect between signage and messages, (b) a significant difference between message types with a fear appeal having significantly higher compliance scores than a moral appeal, and (c) no significant difference between a sign and no sign. The results may assist land and recreation managers in developing effective informational programs related to fire safety and regulations that successfully influence visitor behavior.

Publisher statement
Published by US Forest Service.
Citation Information
Sara S. Cohn, William W. Hendricks and Deborah J. Chavez. "Visitor Compliance With Fire Restrictions: An Observational Study Using Verbal Messages and Symbolic Signage" Fire Social Science Research From the Pacific Southwest Research Station: Studies Supported by National Fire Plan Funds (2008) p. 33 - 43
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/whendric/1/