Less Stress: How You Can Respond to and Manage Visitor Conflict

By Schneider, Ingrid E. | Parks & Recreation, February 2004 | Go to article overview

Less Stress: How You Can Respond to and Manage Visitor Conflict


Schneider, Ingrid E., Parks & Recreation


Stressed out by visitor conflict? Relax--the good news is that the percentage of visitors reporting conflict has remained in the same range since 1980. Even better, many visitors appear to handle the conflicts themselves. So, what's a manager got to do with it? Despite the apparent good news, visitor conflict remains a salient and evolving management issue.

Although conflict has a negative connotation, it can actually be a positive influence in recreation management. Recreation conflict can indicate systemic inefficiencies, generate superior solutions, keep the organization at a higher level of stimulation and, at the very least, prevent stagnation.

Following management guru Covey (1989), who suggests that you must first seek to understand and then be understood, managers need to understand conflict, its magnitude, and visitor responses. Once clearly understood, appropriate conflict management responses can be developed, implemented and monitored in ways such that visitors understand and support your management. Commonalities among conflict situations in five recreation areas across the recreation opportunity spectrum shed insight on conflict management.

Conflict and Its Magnitude

Conflict in the recreation field includes: goal interference attributed to another (Jacob & Schreyer 1980), a tax on the visitor's coping resources (Schneider & Hammitt, 1995) and something of a cumulative nature rather than an immediate reaction to a situation (Owens, 1985). Visitors indicate conflict when they see litter, experience fear and are stressed because of other visitor's behaviors. Managers have identified visitor conflict as a common problem for more than 20 years (Hammitt, 1988; Jakes, Gregerson, Lundgren, & Bengston, 1990). Visitor surveys indicate anywhere from five to 40 percent of visitors have something interfering with their experience. Fortunately, the potential for conflict resolution among recreation visitors is high compared to conflict between other groups (Floyd, Germain, & ter Horst, 1996).

Effective conflict management requires situational specific information. In the last decade, several agencies sought visitor conflict specifics in recreation areas across the recreation opportunity spectrum. These quests revealed interesting similarities and important management implications applicable across many areas.

Understanding Visitor Conflict Through a Stress Approach

In the last 10 years, five conflict studies revealed commonalities in both visitor responses to conflict and ideas for conflict management. Common to the studies themselves were the approach and method. In each conflict situation, it was assumed that the conflict was a stress to which the visitor responded to and coped with. The approach, based on Lazarus and Folkman's (1984) model, has five major elements: (1) person and situation factors, (2) appraisals, (3) stress, (4) coping response and (5) short and long term adaptational outcomes (Figure 1 on page 68). For instance, a person biking along a trail who encounters a dog off leash may appraise the situation as stressful because of a fear of dogs. The hiker responds with immediate fear and frustration, considers their options to avoid the dog and protect themselves, talk with their group members about it, and plans to avoid the area next time they bike. Thus, the biker leaves the area with their experience quality diminished and a plan to change their visitation.

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

Situations appraised as stressful require coping responses. Two basic coping categories are recognized and used in tandem: problem-focused and emotion-focused (Lazarus & Folkman, 198ae). Problem-focused processes make changes in the environment or person to deal with the stress. In recreation, visitors change the time, area or total location of their activities, and are subsequently displaced.

Emotion-focused processes alleviate or change the emotional impact of the stress and encompass a diversity of options such as distancing, selective attention or avoidance. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Less Stress: How You Can Respond to and Manage Visitor Conflict
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.