An Exploration of the Relationships among Social Psychological Involvement, Behavioral Involvement, and Future Intentions in the Context of Birdwatching

Article excerpt

Introduction

In recent years, there has been considerable interest in the utility of the concepts of involvement and loyalty for better understanding aspects of recreation behavior. Surprisingly, there has been little effort by leisure researchers to investigate the relative importance of different measures of involvement and commitment in predicting intentions to go on leisure trips. The purpose of this paper was to identify relationships among measures of social-psychological involvement, behavioral involvement, and commitment; and to determine the relative efficacy of these measures in predicting behavioral intentions. The context in which these relationships were explored was birdwatching.

Involvement

The pioneering work on involvement can be traced back to the work Sherif and Cantril (1947). Their conceptualization, which they derived from social judgment theory, was based on the premise that an individual's attitudes become aroused during interaction and these attitudes give direction to behavior (Sherif & Cantril, 1947; Sherif & Hovland, 1961; Sherif, Sherif, & Nebergall, 1965). The implications of their work were further developed and conceptualized by Krugman (1965), who reported that the degree of a person's involvement with a communication was positively related to the number of "bridging experiences, connections, or personal references" (p. 355) between the mass media and the individual. Interest in involvement gained momentum in the consumer behavior field in the 1980s. For example, Antil (1984) described it as "one of the most important variables in consumer research" (p. 203), while Rothschild (1984) deemed it to be "the greatest thing since sliced bread" (p. 216).

Its adaptation to the context of leisure emerged primarily in the 1990s. Specific examples include tourism impacts on a community (Ap, 1992), segmentation of a pleasure trip or a recreation activity (e.g., Dimanche, Havitz, & Howard, 1993; Fesenmaier & Johnson, 1989; Havitz, Dimanche, & Bogle, 1994), complaint behavior (Twynam, 1992), travel intention (Norman, 1991), family vacation decisions (Madrigal, Havitz, & Howard, 1992), loyalty to a recreation activity or a travel service (e.g., Backman & Crompton, 1991a; Pritchard & Havitz, 1992), responsiveness to communications (e.g., Havitz & Crompton, 1990), and responsiveness to pricing decisions (e.g., McCarville, Crompton, & Sell, 1993).

Involvement has generally been defined and operationalized in social-psychological terms. Social-psychological involvement is a state of motivation, arousal or interest with regard to a product, an activity, or an object (Mittal, 1983; Rothschild, 1984). It is an internal state variable that indicates the amount of arousal, interest, or drive evoked by a particular stimulus or situation (Bloch, 1982; Mitchell, 1979, 1981). Others, however, have argued that involvement can be conceived in behavioral terms. Engel and Blackwell (1982) suggested that involvement could be measured by the time spent in product search, the energy spent, the number of alternatives examined, and the extent of the decision process. Stone (1984) built on this suggestion and defined behavioral involvement as time and/or intensity of effort expended in pursuing a particular activity. In the context of leisure, this is manifested by such measures as frequency of participation, money spent, miles traveled, ability or skill, ownership of equipment/books, and number of memberships.

Involvement has a similar referent in the notion of loyalty. Loyalty has historically been defined in behavioral terms. Reynolds, Darden, and Martin (1974), for example, defined loyalty as "the tendency for a person to continue over time to exhibit similar behaviors in situations similar to those he has previously encountered" (p. 75). More recently, the notion of loyalty has been extended to include behavioral consistency as well as affective attachment (Backman & Crompton, 1991b; Pritchard, Howard, & Havitz, 1991). …