Recreation Conflict - Satisfaction
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Lee, B., C. Shafer and I. Kang. 2005. "Examining relationships among perceptions of self, episode-specific evaluations, and overall satisfaction with a leisure activity." Leisure Sciences 27(2): 93-109.

This research looks at a common aspect of recreation conflict research, user satisfaction. However, the approach taken and theoretical constructs differ from past research. The purpose of this research was to investigate how might relate to interactions that an individual has during leisure experience and to examine the relationships among emotions, episode-specific evaluations, and overall satisfaction. A research model was suggested based on Affect Control Theory, the confirmation/disconfirmation paradigm, Mehrabian and Russell's (1974) approach-avoidance concept, and the sub-domain dependency theory of leisure satisfaction. To hypotheses are proposed: 1) episodes producing positive emotions will be more favorably evaluated than those producing negative emotions; and 2) leisure participants overall satisfaction will be higher if they experience more contentment than conflict in terms of reaction to specific episodes A survey was conducted of 145 trail users on multi-use trail in Houston, Texas. The findings indicated that evaluations of episodes were significantly related to the emotions experienced due to the those episodes, thus confirming hypothesis 1. Furthermore, the study also confirmed hypothesis 2, with people who had over 50% of their episodes that led to contentment having significantly different mean satisfaction than those who had over 50% of their episodes leading to conflict.

Johnson, A. and C. Dawson. 2004. "An exploratory study of the complexities of coping behavior in Adirondack Wilderness." Leisure Sciences 26(3): 281-293.

This study investigates the use of both behavioral and cognitive coping mechanisms by interviewing hikers (n=102) in the Adirondack Wilderness. This study looks to determine whether coping behaviors are a reasonable explanation for wilderness recreationists' high overall satisfaction levels despite reports of visitor over-crowding and other social conditions exceeding acceptable levels. Four specific coping mechanisms were investigated: temporal displacement, spatial displacement, product shift (redefining expectations or experiential definition) and rationalization (a cognitive process that attempts to rectify inconsistencies or incongruity between their expectations and what they encounter). The study found over half of respondents used coping mechanisms with temporal displacement, spatial displacement and product shift being used in roughly equal proportion (30%), with rationalization an infrequent strategy (8%). Of the users reporting coping behaviors, many used multiple strategies to maintain satisfaction levels.

Manning, R. and W. Valliere. 2001. "Coping in outdoor recreation: Causes and consequences of crowding and conflict among community residents." Journal of Leisure Research 33(4): 410-426.

This study investigates the adoption of coping behaviors - displacement, product shift, and rationalization - amongst residents of communities in and around Acadia National Park in Main. This study found relatively high levels of coping behavior - approximately 50% for both displacement and product shift behaviors, but only 35% for rationalization - in response to perceived increases in overall recreation use levels, some recreation activities and some problem behaviors. While only 7.4% of respondents reported that they no longer use the carriage roads because of the changes in use that have occurred, nearly all respondents (94%) reported adopting one or more behavioral or cognitive coping mechanisms. The study concludes that coping may be pervasive in outdoor recreation, that coping includes behavioral and cognitive mechanisms, and that coping is related to perceived changes in both the amount and type of outdoor recreation. The authors speculate on whether the high levels of coping reported in this study are "productive" responses or are indicative of an unhealthy and ultimately dysfunctional system. The authors also conclude that "satisfaction" may be a meaningless or misleading measure for the effective evaluation of outdoor recreation experiences and that measures relating more to coping behaviors may provide managers with more useful information.

Stewart, W. and D. Cole. 2001. "Number of encounters and experience quality in grand canyon backcountry: Consistently negative and weak relationships." Journal of Leisure Research 33(1): 106-120.

This study explores one of the most common topics of outdoor recreation research, the relationship between encounters and the overall quality of recreation experience. Many previous studies have found a weak relationship between satisfaction with the recreation experience and the influence of encounters with other recreationists. The literature, however, is unclear whether this a finding related to methodological issues or whether it is a finding that reveals a fundamental lack of relationship. This study, therefore, uses a more novel research method, a diary-like method, to control for variation in person-based effects (e.g. differences in expectations and motivations between individuals) and a multi-item scale designed to capture more variation in total experience quality. A total of 185 overnight backpackers to the Grand Canyon National Park were surveyed to explore the relationship between number of encounters, crowding, solitude/privacy achieved, and overall experience quality. The results indicate that most backpackers were negatively affected by encountering more groups, but the resultant effect was small. The authors believe that this result implies that managers should be reluctant to justify use restrictions as an attempt to provide higher quality visitor experiences. Instead, managers need to develop a careful understanding of the regional supply and demand for different types of recreation experiences, including low density experiences, as these factors are more likely to provide the basis for wise decisions about use limits.

Schuster, R. and W. E. Hammitt. 2000. "Effective coping strategies in stressful outdoor recreation situations: Conflict on the Ocoee River." USDA Forest Service Proceedings RMRS-P 15(4): 167-174.

This study surveyed private boaters (mostly kayakers) on the Ocoee River and their experience with conflict on the river. Seventy-two percent of boaters had experienced some conflict. In this study, the stress-response model conceptualized by Lazarus and Folkman was tested for significance. Despite the relatively high level of conflict the stress-response model could be not be supported. Like other conflict studies, this study found no significant relationship between the conflict or stress situation and the response. Conflict did not necessarily result in decreased satisfaction levels. Given the high levels of previous experience with boating on the Ocoee River, one possible explanation is that boaters had come to expect conflict (a social norm) and had found ways to cope with the conflict and not let it affect their satisfaction with their experience.

Manning, R. E. 1999. "Crowding in outdoor recreation: Use level, perceived crowding and satisfaction." In Studies in Outdoor Recreation: Search and Research for Satisfaction, Second Edition, 80-121. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press.

This chapter reviews the significant body of literature on crowding in recreation. Crowding is seen as one conflict mechanism. However, the postulated "satisfaction model" - where there is an inverse relationship between crowding and recreation - has generally not been well supported by empirical research. There are a number of reasons for this including: displacement of visitors sensitive to crowding, different personal definitions of crowding, psychological coping behaviors, types of people or group encountered, the place where the encounter takes place, whether the contacts between users are measured objectively or self-reported, and, most importantly, the fact that satisfaction is a multi-faceted concept that is influenced on partially by use level and perceived crowding. These research results have some important implications for management. In particular the author suggests that satisfaction is not an appropriate measure for managing use level and crowding. Management attention should be focused on contact levels (rather than use level) and on zones managed to encourage relatively homogenous groups in terms of party type, size, and behavior.

Manning, R. E. 1999. "Recreation conflict: Goal interference." In Studies in Outdoor Recreation: Search and Research for Satisfaction, Second Edition, 194-206. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press.

This chapter explores the topic of recreation conflict. It focuses particularly on the goal interference model of recreation conflict that was developed by Jacob and Schreyer (1980) and presents an expanded conflict model. Within the expanded conflict model the four variables postulated by Jacob and Schreyer remain (activity style, resource specificity, mode of experience and lifestyle tolerance), but these are seen as simply setting the preconditions for conflict. These variable, when interpreted broadly, account for all the variables found to statistically related to conflict. However, the variables simply determine the sensitivity to conflict and other catalyzing factors or stimuli are need to actually create conflict. These catalyzing factors may be of the interpersonal nature or the result of different social values. Conflict can occur in a number of ways: between different recreation types, between people engaged in the same activity, between users and managers, and with other users of the land or water resources. Whether conflict leads to diminished satisfaction is largely dependent on whether the users engage in coping behaviors.

Shindler, B. and B. Shelby. 1995. "Product shift in recreation settings - findings and implications from panel research." Leisure Sciences 17(2): 91-107.

This study uses data from two surveys of the same individuals on the Rogue River to asses the level of product shift behaviors - users responding to to changing social or environmental conditions by changing their definition of the recreation experience. River floaters who were surveyed in a 1977 study were recontacted in 1991. Results from this study confirmed earlier findings and indicate that visitors are more more likely to change experience definitions than to become dissatisfied, their experience definitions change toward higher density experiences, their float party encounter norms increase, and perceived crowding does not change. However, other findings contradicted the product shift theory as norms for off-river encounters did not increase and user satisfaction decreased slightly. The authors conclude that this last finding should be viewed cautiously as satisfaction is influenced by many factors and their findings do not allow any assumptions about causality to be made.

Robertson, R. A. and J. A. Regula. 1994. "Recreational displacement and overall satisfaction - A study of central Iowa licensed boaters." Journal of Leisure Research 26(2): 174-181.

This study examines the extent to which displacement occurred among boaters on the Rock Reservoir in central Iowa. Unlike previous displacement studies, this study employs a stratified random sample of boat owners, rather than Reservoir users, as its data collection methodology. Only answers from those users having reported at least one visit to the Reservoir were used in this study. A total of 45% of respondents indicate that they were displaced from the Reservoir because of siltation, while 14% indicated they visited the Reservoir on the weekend to avoids crowds. Boaters who were displaced from the reservoir were less satisfied with their most recent boating experience at the reservoir than those who were not displaced. The study findings also indicate that boaters were willing to make trade-offs in site characteristics, accepting the siltation of the Reservoir while avoiding crowds at other reservoirs.

Herrick, T. A. and C. D. McDonald. 1992. "Factors affecting overall satisfaction with a river recreation experience." Environmental Management 16(2): 243-247.

Visitor satisfaction has been consistent way for managers to evaluate the stated goals of recreation management. Often the high satisfaction is seen as indicating a lack of conflict between recreation users. This study examines the importance of a setting dimension relative to behavioral-type dimensions for explaining differences in visitor satisfaction. Regression analysis of 682 surveys of river users indicated that the setting dimension was ranked as one of the most important variables for explaining differences in visitor satisfaction. Other important variables included group behavior, perceived crowding, parking, encounters, and past experience. However, these six variables combined only accounted for 31% of the variance.

Shelby, B. and J. J. Vaske. 1991. "Using normative data to develop evaluative standards for resource-management - A comment on 3 recent papers." Journal of Leisure Research 23(2): 173-187.

Social norms are increasingly being used to set recreation management goals and objectives, and is one tool for management recreation conflict. Social norms are measured empirically by aggregating norms measured at the personal level. This paper reviews three studies that examine issues related to the measurement and definition of management norms and comments on the issues they raise. Two of the studies find that norms are not a useful criterion for managing overall satisfaction of the visitor experience, but that norms are likely quite useful for setting management standards. The third study highlights a number of issues with norms including the fact that they are likely to exist more in low-encounter activities and the challenge of identifying a consensus or acceptable level of norm agreement for them to be used as management standards. Using norms as evaluative management standards is a relatively new approach, and this paper's author highlights the importance of not confusing the process of resolving theoretical and methodological issues with the application of the technique to management.

Chambers, T. W. M. and C. Price. 1986. "Recreational congestion: some hypotheses tested in the forest of Dean." Rural Studies 2(1): 41-52.

Many studies have failed to find an adverse relationship between crowding and visitors responses. This study looks to test a number hypotheses which may explain these past results including: influence of environmental and site factors; amount of vegetation at a site and its influence on site lines; displacement in terms of timing or choice of site; absence of expectations; or impact of investment in getting to the site. Overall the study found most support for the vegetation, displacement and no-expectations hypotheses, with less convincing support for the environmental and investment hypotheses. Overall, the researchers find that the results of this study restore some credibility to the visitor satisfaction/density model. From a management perspective, the implications of this research are that there are clearly crowd-adverse and less crowd-averse sub-groups. Management actions that attempt to disperse all recreational pressures and facilities evenly through a recreational area may only cause conflict with the crowd-adverse sub-group, and is not necessary to ensure the satisfaction of another sub-group. The natural tendency of different sub-groups to segregate into areas of different intensity of use should not be thwarted.

Shelby, B. and T. A. Heberlein. 1986. Carrying capacity in recreation settings. Corvalis: Oregon State University Press.

This book develops a general conceptual framework for carrying capacity in recreation management and research. Social carrying capacity is viewed primarily as a way to merge research and management traditions concerned with establishing appropriate use levels in terms of both crowding and natural resource deterioration. The framework includes descriptive elements of use levels, evaluation of recreation systems, and management standards. The authors tackle the issue of lack of correlation between crowding and satisfaction and density and perceived, and conclude that normative standards offer more effective for making capacity judgments. Setting capacity levels, however, does not solve the allocation issue. Setting use levels does not solve the question of the appropriate mix of recreational users and the authors present two basic allocation mechanisms. Recreation conflict is often attributed to both of these dimensions: crowding and competition between different use types.

Stankey, G. H. and S. F. McCool. 1984. "Carrying capacity in recreational settings: Evolution, appraisal, and application." Leisure Sciences 6(4): 453-473.

This article reviews the literature on the carrying capacity concept and its application to recreation management. Written largely has a defense of the carrying capacity construct, it argues that essential elements of the carrying capacity were recognized early including: 1) recreationists seek multiple satisfactions from recreation and, depending upon these, encounters with others might add, detract, or be neutral in their effect on those experiences; 2) satisfaction is a function of more than use level - the type, frequency, and location of encounters are important intervening variables; 3) clearly stated objectives are essential to identifying carrying capacities; and 4) the emphasis in management needs to be on the outputs - the experiential and environmental conditions desired - not on the inputs such as use levels. The article allows reviews critically the research on the relationship, or lack of one, between overall satisfaction and number of encounters. The authors speculate that a number of mediating factors at play include: 1) self-selected nature of recreation participation; 2) shifts in clientele and experience definition; 3) multiple influences on satisfaction; 4) how satisfaction is defined and measured; 5) saliency of use levels; and 6) the role of expectations and preferences. The article concludes that management focus should not be on "how much is too much", but instead on what kinds of conditions are appropriate and acceptable in different settings. They propose a "limits of acceptable change" as a management framework.

Gramann, J. H. 1982. "Toward a behavioral theory of crowding in outdoor recreation: An evaluation and synthesis of research." Leisure Sciences 5(2): 109-126.

In this paper, research studies on crowding in recreation are analyzed critically and compared to dominant paradigms in social psychology: crowding as stimulus overload and crowding as social interference. In the stimulus overload model, crowding perceptions are greatest when the level of social stimulation exceeds desirable levels and the individual is unable to reduce that stimulation through adaptive strategies. In the social interference model, negative perceptions of density are due to perceived interference with important psychological needs (either because of number and proximity of other or due to objectionable behaviors) or perceived spatial requirements. Early research on crowding focused on social carrying capacity, with number and frequency of encounters being seen as relating directly to overall satisfaction levels. However, research results discredited this perspective and social psychological views of crowding, taking into account differential interpretations of the social environment, seem to have more to offer. This paper finds strong evidence within the recreation crowding and conflict literature to support both the social stimulus model and behavioral aspects of the social interference model. Psychical crowding effects of the social interference model is postulated only for very high density recreation situations.

Becker, R. H. 1981. "Displacement of recreational users between the Lower St. Croix and Upper Mississippi Rivers." Journal of Environmental Management 13: 259-267.

This study investigates whether their is a relationship between user density and visitor satisfaction on the Lower St. Croix and Upper Mississippi Rivers. When the rivers were viewed on their own, users on both the Mississippi and the St. Croix were equally satisfied with their experience. Like many other crowding studies, this finding seems to indicate their was no relationship between density and user satisfaction. However, when the two rivers were considered together it was found that some users who were bothered by high use levels on the St. Croix shifted their activity to the Mississippi. Users on the St. Croix were more inclined towards social aspects of recreation while users on the Mississippi were inclined towards experiences of solitude and less human influence in terms of pollution, facilities or boat traffic. The authors conclude that this study demonstrates that their is a clear relationship between user density and satisfaction, but studies that do not account for displacement or other coping behaviors fail to find this important relationship.

Manning, R. E. and C. P. Ciali. 1980. "Recreation density and user satisfaction: A further explanation of the satisfaction model." Journal of Leisure Research: 329-345.

This paper makes an effort to understand the user density-satisfaction relationship through both a theoretical examination and empirical research. From a theoretical perspective, density only becomes a negative situation when densities get high enough to be seen as crowding. The paper also reports empirical research from four different rivers in Vermont and represents a survey size of 866. In this case density was measured by asking respondents to report the number of people they had reported on the sampling day and their satisfaction level on a ten point scale. No relationship was found between density and user satisfaction. Four possible explanations for thing finding were explored: cognitive dissonance, no expectations, product shift and displacement. The authors found only limited evidence for the latter three explanations, but their methods were very preliminary in nature. Interestingly, despite their discussion of the difference between density and perceived crowding the research measures user density, while later research in the field has consistently measured perceived crowding.

Shelby, B. 1980. "Contrasting recreational experiences: Motors and oars in the Grand Canyon." Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 35: 129-131.

This study uses an experimental design to investigate the different experiences of motorized and non-motorized river runners in the Grand Canyon. A group of river runners traveled half the canyon in oar-powered boats and half the canyon in motor boats. People in the experiment preferred the oar-boat experience because of the pace of travel, smaller more comfortable social groupings and enhanced sensitivity to the natural environment. Many of the preferred aspects of the oar-boat experience related to style of travel and characteristics of the boat itself (e.g. size and possible speed). The author concludes that management actions need to be related to management goals, and in particular, to managing the desired visitor experience. Given the results of this study managers will reach different conclusions if they are managing for "wilderness experience" versus managing for "excursion experience" or to "see the place." While this study does not document recreation conflict per se, the study does measure visitor satisfaction which is often used in conflict research. Additionally, motorized versus non-motorized travel on river is often a subject of intense conflict among recreation users and a particular management challenge.

Heberlein, T. A. and B. Shelby. 1977. "Carrying capacity, values, and the satisfaction Model: A reply to Greist." Journal of Leisure Research 9(2): 142-148.

The paper examines issues relating to the measurement of visitor satisfaction levels and the relationship to establishing carrying capacities in recreation management. The article find that is impossible to set carrying capacities based on satisfaction levels as there are no mean differences in the satisfaction levels associated with different use levels. Other factors, such as peoples' choice to pursue the activity and their expectation of enjoyment, choosing to recreate elsewhere, or changes in individuals' tolerance for crowding, may have significant influence on satisfaction levels. Furthermore, the "satisfaction" model assumes a bivariate relationship between satisfaction and user densities, which is not an accurate depiction of the complex nature of the recreation experience. Management of recreation areas for maximum satisfaction is simply not an appropriate yardstick, as radical options like building a parkway along the Grand Canyon may actually result in higher total levels of satisfaction (due to increase in visitor numbers). Rather, recreation management is about defining appropriate goals for different recreation areas and then setting capacity levels that will achieve those goals. Similarly, goals for acceptable conflict levels allow managers to choose appropriate management action.

Heberlein, T. A. and J. J. Vaske. 1977. Crowding and visitor conflict on the Bois Brule River. Madison, Water Resources Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

This study describes the results of a study that interviewed nearly three thousand canoers, tubers and fisherman as they left the upper Bois Brule river. Despite high user levels, up to 308 visitors on a ten mile stretch, there was no relation between use levels and satisfaction. Use level was related to perceived crowding and feeling crowded is one aspect of overall satisfaction. The authors suggest this study casts further doubt on an econometric model of carrying capacity.

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