Involvement and ownership are known to motivate engagement in Citizen Science (CS).•
Experimental studies of how the degree of involvement increases ownership are rare.•
We manipulated degree of involvement in a CS wildlife project with camera traps.•
High degree of involvement increased ownership and, so, CS attitudes and intentions.•
Low degree of involvement increased ownership when tasks matched participants’ role.
The engagement of citizens in wildlife conservation such as in Citizen Science (CS) projects (i.e., research projects in which citizens and scientists collaborate) about wildlife is highly important. In the CS literature, psychological ownership (i.e., the feeling of owning an object or entity) and citizens’ engagement in more scientific tasks (i.e., higher degree of involvement) have been suggested to have beneficial effects for outcomes of CS. Yet, few experimental investigations have examined which specific scientific tasks in a CS project are beneficial for feelings of ownership. Therefore, the research presented here investigated the influence of the degree of involvement on psychological ownership as well as the consequences of ownership for wildlife CS projects and intentions to engage in wildlife conservation. Two laboratory experiments with a scenario-based CS approach in the context of wildlife conservation demonstrated that a high degree of involvement increased ownership. By increasing ownership, participants’ attitudes toward CS were more positive, their participation intentions for CS projects were higher, and they were prouder of their participation in the CS project. A low degree of involvement increased ownership only when participants’ tasks matched their role in the CS project. We discuss the implications of our findings for wildlife conservation projects and future research.