^ Main Topic |
Changing Recreation Patterns |
Social Aspects of Fire |
Behaviors and Conflict
International Symbols in Southern California
The goal of this research was to evaluate the comprehension
of International Symbols (graphical symbols depicting ideas without words)
used on the Angeles and San Bernardino National Forests in southern California.
Data were collected from 262 recreationists at day-use sites during summer 2002.
The survey instruments were available in English and Spanish.
International Symbols selected included those from the usual
available sources as well as seven Forest-produced symbols.
Each unique response for the symbols was coded for level of correctness
by two independent coders using the International Standards Organization
tool adapted for this study. Any disagreement in coding was resolved by a
third independent coder.
The typical visitor was male, 37 years old with 12 years of
education, and Hispanic. Most visitors were recreating with
family and/or friends and most were on repeat visits to these sites.
Typical activities were picnicking, relaxing, hiking and camping.
Only 11 of the 20 symbols in the study were considered well-understood,
that is, there was a high percentage of respondents who correctly
comprehended them. At least two-thirds of respondents were able
to name the activity/facility to which the symbol was referring
[these were symbols for Fishing, Swimming, Restrooms, Horse Trail,
No Fireworks, Picnic Area, No Trucks, Hiking Trail, Camp (tent),
Drown Campfires, and Hikers]. These need no further management action.
Of the remaining nine symbols, three were moderately
understood, and six were misunderstood. The three moderately
understood symbols probably need modification to clarify the
intended message--perhaps these should only be used if there
is accompanying text (these were Off-road Vehicle Trail,
Information, and Automobiles Permitted). The usual rule is
to provide textual messages for three years when putting out
these symbols. It may be necessary to use textual messages
for five years with these three symbols.
The six misunderstood symbols (these symbols were No Alcohol,
No Charcoal Grills, Amphitheater, Carry Water Back to the Site,
Fish Hatchery and Conserve Water) require major modification or
discontinued use. Most of the respondents did not understand the
intended message of these six symbols.
For additional information about this study please contact Debbie Chavez at 951-680-1558 or .
Publications and Products related to this subject:
Chavez, D.J.; Knap, N.E.; McCollum, D.G. 2004. Assessing national forest visitors' comprehension of international symbols for communicating outdoor recreation messages. Journal of Park and Recreation Administration 22, 3, 1-21.
Chavez, D.J.; McCollum, D.G.; Knap, N.E. 2003.
International symbols report 2002: The San Bernardino and Angeles National Forests.
Unpublished report. Riverside, CA: Pacific Southwest Research Station,
Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. 41 p.
Research conducted by: