Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Predictive Linkages between Recreation Specialization and Place Attachment

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Predictive Linkages between Recreation Specialization and Place Attachment

Article excerpt

Introduction

To understand recreationists' within-group differences in a recreation activity, recreation specialization has provided a well-developed conceptual framework and empirical support (e.g., Chipman & Helfrich, 1988; McFarlane, 2004). It is known that recreationists are not a homogeneous group, and subgroups vary in terms of behavior, experience, skill, and the importance of an activity (Bryan, 1977; Ditton, Loomis, & Choi, 1992). Strong relationships have been found between recreation specialization and various dependent variables such as recreationists' attitudes toward and preferences for particular recreation settings and environments (McIntyre & Pigram, 1992; Virden & Schreyer, 1988).

Because the process of recreationists' attachment to a specific place can be better understood using associated behavioral and affective elements, recreation specialization can serve as a useful framework for understanding how recreationists perceive, prefer, and choose a specific recreation setting (Bricker & Kerstetter, 2000). It is known that recreation specialization is closely associated with experience preferences and consumptive orientation (e.g., Oh & Ditton, 2008). The fundamental logic placed on a relationship between recreation specialization and place attachment is summarized as follows: as level of specialization increases, the importance of non-activity specific experience preferences (i.e., general motivations of a recreation activity) increases and that of consumptive orientation diminishes (Ditton et al., 1992; Salz, Loomis, & Finn, 2001). Further, because highly specialized recreationists tend to have a higher resource dependency than their counterparts, they are likely to show greater appreciation of and support for particular resource places and settings.

Previous empirical studies have examined a relationship between various behavioral or psychological constructs similar to recreation specialization and place attachment (e.g., Hammitt, Backlund, & Bixler, 2006; Kyle, Bricker, Graefe, & Wickham, 2004; Moore & Graefe, 1994). Those studies generally showed a positive association with attachment to a specific setting but study methods that tested the bivariate relationships did not provide a holistic picture of the interconnected linkages between recreation specialization and place attachment. While other intermediate concepts and variables are inevitably excluded in those bivariate analyses, a multivariate model is advantageous in that those variables associated with recreation specialization can be also incorporated in a conceptual framework.

By integrating recreation specialization and place attachment with interconnected and associated concepts, this paper aims to provide a more comprehensive framework to determine whether recreation specialization is an important explanatory factor that contributes to predicting an attachment to recreation sites or places in the context of recreational fishing. In other words, we intend to understand the fostering process of place attachment using recreation specialization as a predictive variable, and by testing the direct and indirect predictive relationships of multiple explanatory elements that are associated with place attachment. To examine the effect of the individual components that comprise recreation specialization on place attachment, this paper makes use of the three individual subdimensions of recreation specialization (namely, behavior, skill-and-knowledge, and commitment) suggested by Mclntyre and Pigram (1992) and Scott and Shafer (2001). This conceptual model is also beneficial because other intervening elements that are linked with recreationists' behavioral and emotional facets can be included simultaneously (Oh & Ditton, 2008). The objectives of this study are to (1) assess how recreation specialization is directly connected with place attachment and (2) understand how recreation specialization is indirectly associated with place attachment via the intermediate concepts of attitudinal and motivational elements. …

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