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Publication Information

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Title: The influence of past experience on wilderness choice

Author: Watson, Alan E.; Roggenbuck, Joseph W.; Williams, Daniel R.;

Date: 1991

Source: Journal of Leisure Research. 23(1): 21-36.

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: A study of Southern Appalachian backcountry hikers tested the hypothesis that recreationists with high experience levels would have greater differentiation of site attribute values when making recreation choices than would individuals with low experience. Contrary to cognitive development theory, a simulated laboratory choice study found that more experienced subjects employed fewer and broader attribute value categories than did their less experienced counterparts. This surprising finding might be explained by the nature of the judgment task. Cognitive development theory suggests that greater experience leads to greater perceptual distinction along a range of attribute values, but social judgment theory suggests fewer attitudinal or preference distinctions along the range of attribute values with increased involvement with the issue or object. Leisure planners, managers, and programmers must decide what type of judgment they are asking recreationists to make when they attempt to influence choice through provision of information.

Keywords: backcountry experience, specialization, categorization, specificity of attributes, recreation choice

Publication Notes:

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.



Watson, Alan E.; Roggenbuck, Joseph W.; Williams, Daniel R. 1991. The influence of past experience on wilderness choice. Journal of Leisure Research. 23(1): 21-36.


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