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Psychology and tourism group 4

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    heissy, claudia, tina, henrietta

    Psychology and Tourism

    “Psychology” is derived from the Greek word meaning “study of mind and soul”. Authors such as, Malim and Birch interprets psychology as the scientific study of human behavior and experience (as cited in Holden, 2005,p.61) . However,  Mullen and Johnson defined  psychology and its application to tourism as “the scientific study of the behavior of the consumers” (as cited in Crouch et. al 2004, p.3). In terms of tourism studies, psychology has explained tourism as a type of behavior. Realists' view of tourism is that the human behavior is driven by pain avoidance and pleasure thinking or “hedonism” and the “rationalists’” believed that people are driven by certain reasons and are responsible for their own actions. According to Pearce, Stringer and Ross there are core areas that emphasize tourism as a behavior. These core areas are motivation, attitudes, personality and environment (as cited in Holden, 2005, p. 62).


    A key theme to studying tourism behavior is to answer “why do people travel?”. The study of tourism motivations and the factors that influence them to choose a travel destination are essential major factors in understanding the tourism as a behavior. According to Atkinson, Davidoff and Gross the psychological theory that explains motivation has not been reached as (cited in Holden,2005, p.63).  


    Theories of motivation of travel

    • Instinct Theory

     This theory was attempted by psychologists to understand the forces behind motivation.  this theory explains that all behaviors are guided by instincts. Instincts that are innate patterns that controls human or animal behavior. It is furthered explained in this theory that human behave in certain ways because they are programmed to do so and were believed to be inherited Psychologist William McDougall was the first to write about this theory and he believed that our actions are driven by factors such as; acquisition, construction, curiosity, flight, gregariousness, pugnacity, reproduction, repulsion, self-abasement, and self-assertion. However, this theory received criticisms that it has major limitations in explaining all kinds of behavior. One of the major constraint to this theory is by labelling every action as instinct provides insufficient explanation to some behavior and differences among individuals are being ignored (Cherry,n.d). In addition, tourism instinct is one of the behavior that cannot be clarified with this type of theory.

    • Drive reduction theory

    Another theory to understand behavior is the drive reduction theory which became popular in 1920s. Atkinson et al  defined the concept as a drive in an aroused state that results from some biological need, such as the need for food, water, sex or avoidance of pain( as cited in Holden,2005, p.64). This aroused condition motivates the organism to remedy the need. According to the drive reduction theory any psychological imbalance motivates behavior to restore equilibrium named homeostasis and this has a specific relevance to tourism studies, because this shows drive reduction theory seeks to relieve tension. However behavioral psychologist also question the idea of “drive reduction theory” relieving tension because some people placed themselves in tension arousing situations. This can be seen in tourism when tourist visit unknown places, take part in high risk sports like mountain climbing, bungee jumping etc. (Holden,2005).

    • Expectancy valence theory

    Witt and wright stated  Expectancy valence theory states that the direction and intensity of behavior will be related to expect goals and outcomes that can be achieved through an object such as tourism (as cited in Holden, 2005 p.65). This could mean people participate in tourism with the expectation that it will lead to they being rewarded. 

    • Optimal arousal level theory

    There is a level of optimal arousal for each individual in terms of a balance between internal and external stimuli. Many psychologist have rejected drive reduction theory in favor for the optimal level theory. This theory was particularly favored by Iso Ashola to explain leisure motivation.The optimal arousal level is based on the desired state of stimulation for the travelers. Iso Ashola argued that the tourist and leisure takes place in a context that allows individuals to manage pathway between overstimulation (too much arousal) and under (stimulation boredom) (Wang and Pizam, 2011, p.45).


    Application of theories in tourism

    The need for travel

    The concept of motivation is a combination of wants, needs and goals. For travel, these desires are related to five reasons:

    ·         Knowledge – cultural or educational purposes

    ·         Punishment Minimization – the need to escape

    ·         Reward Maximization – pleasure-seeking

    ·         Self-esteem (social status)

    ·         Ego-enhancement ("How to market tourism", n.d.)

    This concept is essential for tourism marketers to understand the motivation factors that influence why consumers select a particular destination. Dann investigated the motivations behind tourism consumption and he emphasized anomie and ego-enhancement with the development theme of “push” and “pull” factors. He characterizes “push” factors as socio-psychological motives such as a need to escape from routine, relaxation and enhancing close relationships. While “pull” factors motivators refer to the charming accommodations, climate, environment and enjoyable activities (Holden, 2005).


    The travel career

    Ø  Travel career is a theory of tourist motivation. It was proposed by Pearce in 1998, who put forward an idea that people have “careers” in tourism, not unlike their work.  The big difference, however, is that while some part of the travel career is, according to Pearce “consciously determined and purposeful”, another part is not. This means that due to the fact that most travelling is intentional, the travel career is influenced mostly by internal and not external motivations. These motivations are influenced by for example age, life-cycle and past experiences.

    Ø  The main components of Pearces model is the five categories of needs, which in turn shares resemblance with Maslows pyramid of needs. The five categories of needs are relaxation, simulation, relationship, self-esteem and fulfilment. These needs in turn progress up the leisure ladder.

    Ø  This model can be used to acommodate several recreational settings. It could also help assess how an individual’s needs change in a longitudinal perspective. The older a person is, the higher up the ladder they tend to be. However, Ryan argued that this model is too simplistic when it comes to interpret tourist’s behavior. 

    Ø  With Pearces work, needs analysis is a way to explain motivation. Through experiencing tourism, an individual’s many needs are fulfilled. Although, according to researchers like Crompton  and Crandall using needs to explain why people participate in tourism is complex (as citied in Holden,2005,p.73).



    Personality is one of the biggest theories of psychology. According to Decrop  personality can be define as a reflection of a person´s enduring and unique characteristics that urge him or her to respond in persistent ways to recurring environment stimuli. Nevertheless there have been a number of different theories which have been occurred to explain the different aspects of personality.However psychologists try to understand how personality develop and how it might influence the way people behave and think. It is also clear that the area of psychology try and seek to understand personality and the changes among individuals and how people are alike in terms of personality.Continuously, in terms of the application of personality theory as a predictor of travel behaviour, notable work has been undertaken by Plog.

         His works has been actually been based upon the concepts of psychographics, which has it base in psychoanalysis. Furthermore it´s request to tourism include examining and trying to comprehend a tourist´s intrinsic do choose a specific type of holiday or destination by measuring their personality dimensions. To understand the intrinsic need, Plog cmade a comments that psychographic research allows the researcher to get the inward skin of the traveller and help to understand why most people choose a particular places to visit and follow specialist activities at certain destinations. In Plog´s point of view destination will continue to progress in terms of its appeal toward the psychocentric and of the continuum, Plog found out how relationship between the type of traveller and how destinations were developed in terms of their popularity.

    Plog, made it clear that the method proposed is to identify the group of typologies. This is really base on the people who shared motivations and attitudes, as the meaning is to identify travel pattern. Nevertheless initial research was developed in a commercial consultancy setting, working with airlines business client in the US who were more concerned about understanding the personality characteristics of people who were flyers as opposed to non-travel.Telephones calls were made to interview and ask questions which was related to their personality type and travel patterns according to Plog. Plog developed a model of allocentrics and psychocentrics for the tourism industry in the year 1972. Then it goes on to explain and present these two personality trait as the opposite ends of a continuum of the traits. Psychocentric defines as the people who are nervous, non- adventurous and self-inhabited whiles  allocentric is display characteristics of being outgoing, curious, self-confident people.In other for one to understand personality, it allows psychologists to predict how people will respond to certain situations and the things they prefer and value ( as cited in holden,2005,p.73-74).



    Attitude and environmental psychology

    Dibbs et al.  said Attitude refers to knowledge and positive or negative feelings about an object or activity". According to Malim and Birch, attitudes have three components the cognitive, the affective and the behavioral.(as cited in Holden,2005,p75.)The cognitive is concerned with perception and beliefs, the affective feelings and emotions and finally the behavioral is based on both the cognitive and affective.  Attitudes are fairly permanent, making our response more predictable than otherwise. However, the attitudes can be changed, based upon a cognitive component and the ability we have to assimilate new information, the part of the attitude that is cognitive is susceptible to influence. Attitudes are set permanent evaluations that we carry around with us and affect how we interpret things and make us more predictable in our response. By considering all the components of attitudes is possible for example in terms of marketing it is possible  to present information about the destinations  in ways that may overcome unfavourable cognitions or beliefs about those places (Holden,2005).

    How we view the environment is likely to determine how one interacts with it as a tourist.experiencing the environment as a tourist. As a tourist there are many ways we interact and experience the environment. they are 

    • External - the environmental surroundings  are viewed as being seperate from us and there is very little emotional attachment to the surroundings.
    • Setting for action - the characteristics of the environment provide a background for the pursuit of activity. 
    • Social system -   the environment provides  setting for bonding and types ofsocial interaction. the tourist experience maybe centered on  the developement of relationships wit family and friends in environments different from home.
    • Emotional territory -  we can have emotional  attachments to certain plces or types of environment (Holden,2005)




    • Cherry, K. (n.d.). Instinct Theory of Motivation. Retrieved  from
    • Crouch, G. I., Perdue, R. R., Timmermans, H. J. P., & Uysal, M. (2004). Consumer psychology of tourism, hospitality and leisure. Wallingford, UK: CABI Publishing. doi:10.1079/9780851997490.0000
    • Holden, A. (2005). Tourism Studies and the Social Sciences. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.
    • How to Market Tourism | Understanding consumer psychology and advertising Tourism ... (n.d.). Retrieved , from
    • Wang, Y., & Pizam, A. (2011). Destination marketing and management: Theories and applications. Wallingford, UK: CABI. doi:10.1079/9781845937621.0000

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