Date of Award

Spring 2007

Project Type


Program or Major

Recreation Management and Policy

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Joshua Carroll


This study explores relationships between (1) knowledge and acceptance of federal wilderness designation and (2) increased knowledge and acceptability of federal wilderness designation with integrative complexity. Integrative complexity describes the structure of thoughts people have about an issue such as federal wilderness designation. Breaking traditional qualitative measurement techniques, a new scalar instrument was tested in this study to measure integrative complexity. Data were collected from undergraduate students at the University of New Hampshire (N=102), utilizing a pretest-posttest comparison group research design. As hypothesized, increased knowledge resulted in increased acceptance of federal wilderness designation. Conversely, integrative complexity scores decreased slightly as knowledge and acceptability increased. These findings support management efforts aimed at education, and imply that people may actually create stronger dichotomies about an issue when educated on that topic.