How does an ecological psychological orientation influence consumer preferences and preferences for leisure activities?
An ecological worldview is defined as a psychological orientation linked to the importance of environmentally relevant core values and also deep love for nature (Perkins, 2009). Preferences for environmental tourism including ecotourism type leisure experiences, concern for responsible tourism principles and practices, and willingness to make personal sacrifices to protect the environment have all been found to be associated with such a psychological orientation in some tourists (Perkins, 2009). The impacts of visitation on delicate natural and cultural environments are of major concern as the worldwide tourism industry continues to grow. Therefore, greater understanding of consumers who are willing to make more responsible choices, curb personal freedoms and also make sacrifices, including time and money, in order to protect vulnerable habitats may help to reduce unsustainable human impact on the environment. Moreover, the environmental sensitivity of these so-called 'responsible' consumers may influence a diverse range of consumer and lifestyle choices. Some recent research using a tourist sample suggests that this may be the case. However, these associations need to be tested with a more diverse sample and also incorporating a wider range of consumer, leisure and tourism activities. It is proposed that consumers' core values, and particularly feelings towards nature, have more important influences than either pro-environmental attitudes or beliefs on environmentally responsible consumer behaviour and choices, including preferences for particular types of tourism experiences and environmental and cultural volunteerism. This proposition will be tested by examining a number of related hypotheses using a quantitative study of Australian tourism consumers. An on-line survey is being utilized to capture respondents' core values and attitudes towards nature, environmental tourism and the environment generally. SEM and regression analysis are being utilized to assess a proposed model of relationships as well as mediating influences. The results have implications for both theory and practice, including providers of leisure and tourism experiences, travel companies, destination management, potential providers of tourism. In terms of the bevaviour of consumers generally, examination of environmental sensitivity of consumers has wider implications for consumer attitudes beyond the tourism domain.
Proceedings of EIRASS July 2010, Istanbul Turkey
Social and Community Psychology