2022.06.10 Dori Davari PhD Dissertation.pdf
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DESTINATION CURIOSITY: CONCEPTUALIZATION, MEASUREMENT, AND EFFECT
Purpose of visit is one of the main determinants of destination choice. Assessing the fulfillment of travelers’ desires could thus gauge the tourism potential of a country from the perspective of travelers. The main reasons for traveling are relaxation, pleasure and entertainment, social interaction, opportunity to meet a romantic or sexual partner, educational opportunity, self-fulfillment, wish fulfillment, shopping, business, holiday, health, and transit. Meanwhile, academic research on satisfying the curiosity about a destination remains underdeveloped. The concept of curiosity is central to motivation and curiosity as a personality trait plays a significant role in the behavior of a traveler.
The goal of this dissertation was to examine the tourism potential of a destination from the point of view of travelers interested in exploring new horizons and perspectives to better fulfill their expectations and increase customer satisfaction. The purpose of this study is three-fold: (1) conceptualize destination curiosity; (2) develop a scale for destination curiosity; (3) examine the impact of destination curiosity as a major driver of international travel. For the latter, a set of integral relationships across different measurement items associated with destination curiosity and the cultural identity dimension of place identity is instituted in an SEM model in which the dependent variable is international visit intention.
For this purpose, this study coined the term destination curiosity (hereafter, DC), which was defined as the travel enthusiasm that is reflective of a curious behavior to explore and seek fulfillment in acquiring knowledge through the actual travel experience at the destination. Aligned with Berlyne’s definition of curiosity and exploratory behavior, who is the most influential contributor to the concept of exploratory behavior, the two main dimensions of curiosity continue to be perceptual curiosity, which is more emotionally driven, and epistemic curiosity, which is information seeking behavior and cognitively driven.
Having addressed both the affective and cognitive drivers of curiosity to conceptualize DC, sensation seeking, novelty experience, need for cognition, and perceptual curiosity were incorporated into the approach. DC was conceptualized according to Fine's clockspeed model (1998). Fine’s model is related to the rate of change and includes two dimensions: process control (integrality-modularity) and decision control (slow-fast clockspeed). By incorporating this model, both the complexity and diversity dimensions of DC were considered. Therefore, DC was conceptualized in a way that illustrates how the existing or potential competitive advantages of destinations can influence the destination choices of travelers when they travel to explore new horizons and perspectives. In this study Fine’s clockspeed model—as a supply chain model defined to be used by suppliers/organizations—is incorporated in conceptualizing destination curiosity, as personality trait of a traveler, with the lens of demand expectation.
As for developing a scale through a rigorous approach via higher-order factor modeling, a scale was developed to measure DC. Delphi method was used to purify the initial measurement items that were adopted from the perceptual curiosity scale (Collins, Litman, & Spielberger, 2004), the need for cognition scale (Cacioppo & Petty, 1982), the desire for novelty scale (Pearson, 1970), and the sensation seeking scale (Zuckerman, Kolin, Price, & Zoob, 1964) in the travel context. In addition, EFA and higher-order factor modeling were incorporated to develop a scale.
Finally, to ensure the predictive validity of the developed scale, another study was designed to examine the mediating effect of DC on the impact of the cultural identity (dimension of brand identity) of a country on international visit intention. Motion pictures, mega-events, or gastronomy arguably act as instigators; while established brand persistence, geopolitics, or the existence of stereotypes about a destination act as inhibitors when it comes to one’s willingness to travel to another country. Therefore, Turkey was chosen for the context and a scenario was defined that addressed all the mentioned elements. The cultural identity of a destination was considered a proper antecedent for examining the mediating effect of DC on international visit, as the desire to enjoy unique pleasant experiences is likely to be universal. Meanwhile, culture is undoubtedly a unique attribute of any destination, whether a destination affiliated with thousands of years of fame or a non-major tourist destination which has sustained its culture. The significant mediating effect of DC in that study shows its importance in destination marketing.
The DC is arguably critical for the improvement of relations between nations. The more people travel to explore new horizons and perspectives, the more they will understand each other. In the same vein, for travelers with a high level of DC, traveling is a means of nourishing their soul that can eventually improve the well-being of the global society.
- Doctor of Philosophy
- Hospitality and Tourism Management
- West Lafayette