Environmental Management

, 42:497 | Cite as

Assessing the Transactional Nature of Wilderness Experiences: Construct Validation of the Wilderness-Hassles Appraisal Scale

  • John G. PedenEmail author
  • Rudy M. Schuster


Concerns over the increasing popularity of wilderness recreation have resulted in attempts to determine the amount of use that different areas can tolerate without adverse affects to the resource. Early attempts to establish recreational carrying capacities focused on managers’ assessments of biophysical impacts. The perceptions of wilderness visitors, however, are now considered integral to capacity decisions. This study used a stress appraisal framework to understand wilderness visitors’ perceptions of on-site conditions. It was based on the premise that negative appraisals of wilderness conditions produce stress and that individual perceptions vary based on personal and situational characteristics. The purpose of the study was to assess the validity of a wilderness-hassles appraisal scale by testing hypothesized relationships between experience-use history (EUH), place attachment, and stress appraisal. Data collection occurred through a postal survey of hikers (n = 385) contacted in the High Peaks and Pemigewasset Wilderness Areas during the summer of 2004. An exploratory factor analysis indicated that stress appraisal is a multi-dimensional construct. Validity testing procedures were restricted to those dimensions that were consistent between study areas and provided partial support for the hassles scale. As hypothesized, EUH did not influence perceptions of wilderness conditions. Place attachment, on the other hand, was positively correlated with stressful appraisals of social and managerial conditions. Although Kruskall Wallis tests revealed significant differences in visitors’ perceptions of managerial conditions between study sites, perceptions of social conditions did not vary significantly. Implications for management and recommendations for further refinement of the wilderness hassles construct are discussed.


Experience-use history Place attachment Stress appraisal Wilderness Recreation 



This research was funded by the McIntyre-Stennis Cooperative Forestry Research Program. The authors would like to acknowledge the support that was provided by Rebecca Oreskes of White Mountain National Forest, and Kris Alberga of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. We would also like to thank Chad Dawson, Diane Kuehn, and Lianjun Zhang for their valuable assistance with the project.


  1. Blahna DJ, Smith KS, Anderson JA (1995) Backcountry lama packing: visitor perceptions of acceptability and conflict. Leisure Sciences 17:185–204Google Scholar
  2. Bricker KS, Kerstetter DL (2000) Level of specialization and place attachment: an exploratory study of whitewater recreationists. Leisure Sciences 22:233–257CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Carmines EG, Zeller RA (1979) Reliability and validity assessment. Sage University Paper Series on Quantitative Applications in the Social Sciences, 07–017. Sage, Newbury Park, CAGoogle Scholar
  4. Cole DN (1996) Wilderness recreation use trends, 1965 through 1994. Res. Pap. INT-RP-488. USDA, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station,Ogden, UT, p 10Google Scholar
  5. Cole DN (2004) Wilderness experiences: what should we be managing for? International Journal of Wilderness 10:25–27Google Scholar
  6. Cronbach LJ (1951) Coefficient alpha and the internal structure of tests. Psychological Bulletin 52:281–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Czaja R, Blair J (1996) Designing surveys: a guide to decisions and procedures. Pine Forge Press, Thousand Oaks, CAGoogle Scholar
  8. Dasman RF (1964) Wildlife biology. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  9. DeVellis RF (2003) Scale development: theory and applications, 2nd edn. Sage Publications, Inc., Thousand Oaks, CAGoogle Scholar
  10. Dillman DA (2000) Mail and internet surveys: the tailored design method, 2nd edn. John Wiley and Sons, Inc., New YorkGoogle Scholar
  11. Driver B, Brown P, Stankey G, Gregorie T (1987) The ROS planning system: evolution, basic concepts, and research needed. Leisure Sciences 9:201–212Google Scholar
  12. Fabrigar LR, Wegener DT, MacCallum RC, Strahan EJ (1999) Evaluating the use of exploratory factor analysis in psychological research. Psychological Methods 4:272–299CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Folkman S, Moskowitz JT (2000) Positive affect and the other side of coping. American Psychologist 55(6):647–654CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Godschalk DR, Parker FH (1975) Carrying capacity: a key to environmental planning? Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 30:160–165Google Scholar
  15. Hammitt WE, Backlund EA, Bixler RD (2004) Experience use history, place bonding and resource substitution of trout anglers during recreation engagements. Journal of Leisure Research 36:356–378Google Scholar
  16. Hammitt WE, Backlund EA, Bixler R (2006) Place bonding for recreation places: conceptual and empirical development. Leisure Studies 25:17–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hammitt WE, Knauf LR, Noe FP (1989) A comparison of user vs. researcher determined level of past experience on recreation preference. Journal of Leisure Research 21:202–213Google Scholar
  18. Hendee JC, Dawson CP (2002) Wilderness management: stewardship and protection of resources and values, 3rd edn. Fulcrum Publishing, Golden, COGoogle Scholar
  19. Jacob GR, Schreyer R (1980) Conflict in outdoor recreation: a theoretical perspective. Journal of Leisure Research 12:369–380Google Scholar
  20. Kanner AD, Coyne JC, Schaefer C, Lazarus RS (1981) Comparison of two modes of stress measurement: daily hassles and uplifts versus major life events. Journal of Behavioral Medicine 4:1–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kaplan R, Kaplan S (1989) The experience of nature: a psychological perspective. Cambridge University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  22. Kyle G, Absher J, Graefe A (2003) The moderating role of place attachment on the relationship between attitudes toward fees and spending preferences. Leisure Sciences 25:33–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kyle G, Bricker K, Graefe A, Wickham T (2004) An examination of recreationists’ relationships with activities and settings. Leisure Sciences 26:123–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kyle G, Graefe A, Manning R, Bacon J (2004) Effect of activity involvement and place attachment on recreationists’ perceptions of setting density. Journal of Leisure Research 36:209–231Google Scholar
  25. Lazarus RS (1990) Theory-based stress measurement. Psychological Inquiry 1:3–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lazarus RS (2000) Toward better research on stress and coping. American Psychologist 55:655–673CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lazarus RS, Folkmnan S (1984) Stress, appraisal, and coping. Springer Publishing Company, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  28. Manning RE (1999) Studies in outdoor recreation: search and research for satisfaction, 2nd edn. Oregon State University Press, Corvallis, ORGoogle Scholar
  29. Miller TA (1997) Coping behaviors in recreational settings: substitution, displacement, and cognitive adjustments as a response to stress. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Montana, MissoulaGoogle Scholar
  30. Miller TA, McCool SF (2003) Coping with stress in outdoor recreational settings: an application of transactional stress theory. Leisure Sciences 25:257–275CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Moore RL, Graefe AR (1994) Attachments to recreation settings: the case of rail-trail users. Leisure Sciences 16:17–31Google Scholar
  32. Netemeyer RG, Bearden WO, Sharma S (2003) Scaling procedures: issues and applications. Sage Publications, Inc., Thousand Oaks, CAGoogle Scholar
  33. Peden JG, Schuster RM (2005) Stress and coping in the High Peaks Wilderness: an exploratory assessment of visitor experiences. In: Bricker K, Millington S (eds) Proceedings of the 2004 Northeastern Recreation Research Symposium Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-326. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station, Newton Square, PA, pp 29–38Google Scholar
  34. Proshansky HM, Fabian AK, Kaminoff R (1983) Place identity: physical world socialization of the self. Journal of Environmental Psychology 3:57–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Ramthun R (1995) Factors in user group conflict between hikers and mountain bikers. Leisure Sciences 17:159–169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Schneider IE (1995) Describing, differentiating, and predicting visitor response to on-site outdoor recreation conflict. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Clemson University, ClemsonGoogle Scholar
  37. Schneider IE (1999) Response to conflict among wilderness visitors. In: Cole D, McCool S, Borrie W, O’Loughlin J (eds) Wilderness Science in a Time of Change Conference (Vol. RMRS-P-15-VOL-4. United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Missoula, MT, pp 160–163Google Scholar
  38. Schneider IE (2000) Responses to conflict in urban-proximate areas. Journal of Park and Recreation Administration 18:37–53Google Scholar
  39. Schneider IE, Hammitt WE (1995) Visitor responses to on-site recreation conflict. Journal of Applied Recreation Research 20:249–268Google Scholar
  40. Schreyer R, Lime DW, Williams DR (1984) Characterizing the influence of past experience on recreation behavior. Journal of Leisure Research 16:34–50Google Scholar
  41. Schuster RM (2000) Coping with stressful situations and hassles during outdoor recreation experiences in wilderness environments. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Clemson University, ClemsonGoogle Scholar
  42. Schuster RM, Hammitt WE, Moore D (2003) A theoretical model to measure the appraisal and coping responses to hassles in outdoor recreation settings. Leisure Sciences 25:277–299CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Schuster RM, Hammitt WE, Moore D (2006) Stress appraisal and coping response to hassles experienced in outdoor recreation settings. Leisure Sciences 28:97–113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Spector PE (1991) Summated rating scale construction: an introduction. Sage Publications, Inc., Newbury Park, CAGoogle Scholar
  45. Stedman RC (2002) Toward a social psychology of place: predicting behavior from place-based cognitions, attitude, and identity. Environment and Behavior 34:561–580CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Stokols D, Schumaker SA (eds) (1981) People and places: a transactional view of settings. Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJGoogle Scholar
  47. Tabachnick BG, Fidell LS (1996) Using multivariate statistics, 3rd edn. Harper Collins College Publishers, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  48. Vaske JJ, Donnelly MP, Heberlein TA (1980) Perceptions of crowding and resource quality by early and more recent visitors. Leisure Sciences 3:367–381Google Scholar
  49. Vaske JJ, Donnelly MP, Wittmann K, Laidlaw S (1995) Interpersonal versus social-values conflict. Leisure Sciences 17:205–222Google Scholar
  50. Vorkinn M, Riese H (2001) Environmental concern in a local context: the significance of place attachment. Environment and Behavior 33:249–263CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Watson AE, Cronn R (1994) How previous experience relates to visitor’s perceptions of wilderness conditions. Trends 31:43–46Google Scholar
  52. Waston AE, Niccolucci MJ (1992) Defining past-experience dimensions for wilderness recreation. Leisure Sciences 14:89–103Google Scholar
  53. Watson AE, Niccolucci MJ, Williams DR (1994) The nature of conflict between hikers and recreational stock users in the John Muir Wilderness. Journal of Leisure Research 26:372–385Google Scholar
  54. Watson AE, Roggenbuck JW, Williams DR (1991) The influence of past experience on wilderness choices. Journal of Leisure Research 23:21–36Google Scholar
  55. Whisman S, Hollenhorst S (1998) A path model of whitewater boating satisfaction on the Cheat River of West Virginia. Environmental Management 22:109–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Wilderness Act (1964) Public Law 88–577:88th United States CongressGoogle Scholar
  57. Williams DR (1989) Great expectations and the limits to satisfaction: a review of recreation and consumer satisfaction research. In: Watson AH (ed) Outdoor Recreation Benchmark 1988: proceedings of the National Outdoor Recreation Forum. USDA Forest Service Gen. Tech. Rep. SE-52:422–348Google Scholar
  58. Williams DR, Patterson ME (1999) Environmental psychology: mapping landscape meanings for ecosystem management. In: Cordell HK, Bergstrom JC (eds) Integrating social sciences and ecosystem management: human dimensions in assessment, policy and management. Sagamore Press, Champaign, IL, pp 141–160Google Scholar
  59. Williams DR, Patterson ME, Roggenbuck JW, Watson AE (1992) Beyond the commodity metaphor: examining emotional and symbolic attachment to place. Leisure Sciences 14:29–46Google Scholar
  60. Williams DR, Roggenbuck JW (1989) Measuring place attachment: some preliminary results. Paper presented at the NRPA Symposium on Leisure Research, San Antonio, TXGoogle Scholar
  61. Williams DR, Schreyer R, Knopf RC (1990) The effect of the experience use history on the multidimensional structure of motivations to participate in leisure activities. Journal of Leisure Research 22:36–54Google Scholar
  62. Williams DR, Vaske JJ (2003) The measurement of place attachment: validation and generalizability of a psychometric approach. Forest Science 49:830–840Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Recreation and Tourism Management ProgramGeorgia Southern UniversityStatesboroUSA
  2. 2.Faculty of Forest and Natural Resources ManagementState University of New York - College of Environmental Science and ForestrySyracuseUSA

Personalised recommendations