The Role of Emotions in Destination Visitation Intentions: A Cross-Cultural Perspective

By White, Christopher J.; Scandale, Steve | Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management, August 2005 | Go to article overview

The Role of Emotions in Destination Visitation Intentions: A Cross-Cultural Perspective


White, Christopher J., Scandale, Steve, Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management


The rote of emotions in consumer attitudes and behaviour has become the focus of much recent research, and no doubt this trend will continue as new findings bring benefits. Within the tourism literature, emotions or affect have been investigated in conjunction with destination image, and a number of studies in the area have provided a direction for the present study. A sample of Italian and American individuals were surveyed to determine the role emotions played in influencing destination visitation intentions, the relationship between emotions and the physical characteristics of a destination, and to determine whether emotions van/across nationalities. The results indicated that emotions were the strongest predictor of visitation intention, that the tourism attraction of a destination stimulate the strongest emotional responses and that there are only minor differences in the intensity of emotional responses between nationalities.

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A number of recent studies have focused on the concept of image in relation to tourist destination management and marketing (Baloglu & McCleary, 1999; Baloglu & Brinberg, 1997; Leisen, 2001; Ahmed, 1996; Echmer & Ritchie, 1993; Javalgi, Thomas, & Rao, 1992; Gallarza, Saura, & Garcia, 2002). While there appears to be much uncertainty as to exactly what image is, recent work has attempted to clarify the relationship between it and other constructs, such as perceptions and attitudes, so as to determine where similarities and differences exist. Much of the work that has been done on tourism destination image appears to be focusing more on 'attitudes' rather than image, in that the operationalisation of the image construct has usually involved some or all of the elements contained in the well known tri-component model of attitudes. Examples of such elements include affective, cognitive/perceptual and behavioural components.

The tri-component model of attitudes has been popular in the psychology literature since the 1940s (Breckler, 1984). The thesis of this model is that attitudes are evaluative statements formed through the interaction of cognitive, affective and behavioural components, where the cognitive component represents the beliefs and knowledge one holds about an object or person, the affective component represents one's feeling or emotions towards an object (sad, happy and so on) and the behavioural component is how one reacts towards the object. Numerous studies have supported this conceptualisation (Bootzin, Bower, Crocker, & Hall, 1991); although until recently much work in the area of consumer research has focused on the cognitive component leaving the affective component comparatively less understood.

Research that has focused on the relationship between the affective and cognitive components, particularly as they relate to decision-making, seems to have converged at a similar position (Epstein, 1993; Zajonc, 1980); namely that when confronted with a decision task, two processes are likely to occur. The first is a relatively automatic affective reaction that may be positive or negative, and that also varies in strength. The second is thought to be more controlled and deliberate, thus requiring higher-order cognitive processing that may strengthen or weaken the position established from the affective reaction.

The implications of this model, in terms of tourism destination selection, is that individuals are likely to be influenced by the lower-order affective reactions when little information or processing resources are available; however, when information such as political unrest, the outbreak of disease or heavy competition among resorts is on hand, individuals will most probably be influenced by cognitions evolving from the higher-order processes: decisions at this level will occur relatively more slowly than the more impulsive reactions arising from lower-level processes.

This interplay between the affective and the cognitive processes is likely to vary according to the kind of decision; for example, a decision that involved choosing between two similar brands of automobile brake parts may be influenced by cognitive elements such as price, reputation of the manufacturer or location of the retailer. …

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