Motivation Theory: Explaining Tourist Behavior

Topics: Motivation, Psychology, Maslow's hierarchy of needs Pages: 5 (1513 words) Published: December 8, 2010
Motivation theory
"Crompton (1979) notes it is possible to describe the who, when, where, and how of tourism, together with the social and economic characteristics of tourist, but not to answer the question "why," the most interesting question of all tourist behaviour." (Fodness 1994, p. 556)

 While motivation is only one of many variables in explaining tourist behaviour, it is nonetheless  a very critical one, as it constitutes the driving force behind all behaviour (Fodness 1994). Motivation sets the stage for forming people's goals (Mansfeld 2000) and is reflected in both travel choice and behaviour; as such it influences people's expectations, which in turn determine the perception of experiences. Motivation is therefore a factor in satisfaction formation (Gnoth 1997).  Basic motivation theory suggests a dynamic process of internal psychological factors (needs, wants and goals), causing an uncomfortable level of tension within individuals’ minds and bodies, resulting in actions aimed at releasing that tension and satisfying these needs (Fodness 1994). Motives, implying such an action, require the awareness of needs, as well as objectives, promising to satisfy these now conscious needs in order to create wants and move people to buy (Goosens 2000). Objectives or goals are presented in the form of products and services, it is therefore the role of marketing to create awareness of needs and suggest appropriate objectives, promising the satisfaction of these (Mill and Morrison 1985).  Several authors suggest (Dumazedier 1967, Krippendorf 1987, Parker 1983) that in the Western World free time and holidays are connected to the concept of self-actualisation or self-realisation. The latter defined by Grunow-Lutter (1983. p. 76) as "a person's dynamic relationship between the real and the ideal self, constituting a process of decreasing the distance between these two cognitive systems, themselves subject to continuous change." It is the individual's aim to achieve a state of stability, or homeostasis (Goosens 2000), which is disrupted when the person becomes aware of the gap between real and ideal self, or as Goosens calls it a need deficiency. The resulting need to self-actualise represents the motive, which under the constraints of the situation sets the stage for the process of motivation (Gnoth 1997).  

But to what extent does tourism satisfy the intrinsic need for self-actualisation? Tinsley and Eldredge (1995) summarise 15 years of research into psychological needs, satisfied by leisure activities, and proposed leisure activities clusters such as novelty, sensual enjoyment, cognitive stimulation, self-expression, creativity, vicarious competition, relaxation, agency, belongingness and service. It is questioned however; whether these superficial needs are intrinsically motivated (Goosens 2000, p. 303), suggesting that these motivations are merely culturally learned stereotypes or explanations for leisure behaviour. As Fodness (1994) states, a widely accepted integrated theory for needs and goals behind motivation is lacking. The question is of course why this is the case.  Research into motivation can be distinguished into two categories, the behaviourist and the cognivist approach (Gnoth 1997). The discussion has therefore traditionally revolved around either push or pull factors influencing tourist behaviour (Crompton 1979). Push factors represent lasting dispositions, as they are internally generated drives. The individual, energised by such drives, will then search objects for the promise of drive reduction and develop a motive (Gnoth 1997). The behaviourist view thus emphasises the emotional parameter of decision-making, while the cognivist approach focuses on situational parameters in which motives are expressed, consequently encompassing a certain knowledge which the tourist holds about goal attributes as well as a rational weighing up of situational constraints (Gnoth 1997). This cognitive process results in...
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