Relationships between motivation and psychological distance in a forest recreation environment
Hoar, Alexander R.
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The purpose of this study was to field test a portion of the recreation quality theory: a conceptual framework which seeks to provide insight into the behavior of outdoor recreationists. Specifically, the inverse relationship of two variables which may affect the quality of outdoor recreation was examined. These were the force of motivation and the psychological distance to the user's destination in a recreation environment. Time spent hiking to the destination was considered a function of force, and physical distance was considered a function of the psychological distance to the destination. It was hypothesized that people who were able to accurately determine the distance remaining to the destination, as they were hiking along the trail, would arrive sooner than those who could not accurately determine the distance remaining to the destination. A map was used to provide users with information about· distances. The hiking times for 109 visitor groups at the Cascades Nature Trail in the Jefferson National Forest, Virginia were unobtrusively recorded between September 26 and November 7, 1976. Differences between the hiking times of groups were analyzed by means of Wilcoxon's Rank Sum Test, the Ansari-Bradley Dispersion Test, and the Moses Dispersion Test. The effects of changing environmental conditions were assessed by means of the Kruskal-Wallis Test for Multiple Comparisons, as well as by Wilcoxon's Rank Sum Test. This study provided evidence that supports the hypothesis proposed in the recreation quality theory, that an inverse relationship exists between the force of motivation and the psychological distance to a goal in a forested recreation environment.
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