The role of satisfaction and emotional response in the choice mechanisms of suburban natural-areas users.
- Publication Type:
- Journal Article
- Environ Manage, 2012, 49 (1), pp. 174 - 191
- Issue Date:
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The unique observations and experiences of users of suburban natural areas lead them to perceive their surroundings in a manner associated with their personal values. It follows that every individual has a unique cognitive decision-making structure. This paper examines users' affective and cognitive evaluation of a particular suburban natural area by applying the means-end chain method to reveal the cognitive mechanism by which users link the attributes and benefits of an environmental public good with their own personal values. Analysis of a survey conducted of visitors to a Spanish suburban natural area (park) reveals the main attributes to be the opportunity to practice sports and proximity of the park and the main potential benefits to be the improvement of physical and psychological well-being. The desired personal values include fun, quality of life and self-fulfillment at the individual level and improved social relationships at the collective level. The paper also tests for cross-group, cognitive-structure differences in visitor groups, segmented by level of satisfaction and reported range of emotions, and finds that perceived physical and psychological health improvements and individual and social awareness increase with higher levels of satisfaction and emotional response. Therefore, the recommendations for natural area management suggested by these findings include enhancing the scenic beauty and peacefulness of suburban natural areas in order to improve the affective state of visitors because this could contribute to reducing social costs (including health care) within the area of influence of the natural area.
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