Recreation Conflict - Stress Theory
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Miller, T. and S. McCool. 2003. "Coping with stress in outdoor recreational settings: An application of transactional stress theory." Leisure Sciences 25(2-3): 257-275.

In this study, coping behaviors in recreation are understood using the transaction model of stress. Within the transactional model, coping behaviors can be viewed as the result of on-going transactions among personal and environmental factors, perceptions of threat or stress, and the perceived effectiveness of coping strategies. The current study focuses specifically on the relationship between reported levels of stress and the types of coping strategies used by recreationists in Glacier National Park. Higher stress levels were more strongly related to direct action aimed at changing environmental conditions (such as talking to someone) or absolute displacement behaviors, while the lower stress levels were associated with cognitive coping mechanisms. Moderate stress levels were more related to substitution behaviors. These results have intuitive appeal, as direct action was used when the perceived threat increased to the point where the options of changing one's own behavior, or understandings, were no longer seen as adequate responses. The transactional stress model emphasizes that recreational conflict is product of an on-going transaction between the person, the environment and the results of coping. Recreational settings, therefore, are constantly changing not only as a result of management decision and natural processes, but also due to social processes. Coping behaviors can help recreationists maintain satisfaction with their activity, but may also change the recreational setting. These reactions set the stage for further transactive relationships and stress relationships.

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.

Schneider, I. and W. Hammitt. 1995. "Visitor response to outdoor recreation conflict: A conceptual approach." Leisure Sciences 17(3): 223-234.

This paper suggests outdoor recreation conflict involves two primary dimensions: 1) a visitor's perception of conflict and 2) a visitor's response to conflict. Recreation conflict literature has focused primarily on the first dimension and almost exclusively on the "goal interference" model of conflict. Two lesser known models that also focus on why conflict occur include a spatial model of conflict and model of incompatibilities between recreation types based on environmental dominance and use of technology. Recreation conflict research has been insightful on revealing factors which lead to recreation conflict, but it has dealt very little with the second dimension of visitor response to conflict. This paper presents a conceptual framework based upon response to stressful situations to help explain the visitor-response dimension. The model, adapted from Lazarus and Folkman's (1984) stress-response model suggests personal and situational factors influence a series of appraisal processes that lead to a response to conflict. Moreover this model suggests that conflict in recreation should be viewed as a process, where a situation is first evaluated as conflict and followed by a response that affects a visitor's experience.

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