Environmental Management

, Volume 56, Issue 3, pp 765–776 | Cite as

Determinants of Responsible Hiking Behavior: Results from a Stated Choice Experiment

  • Tian Guo
  • Jordan W. SmithEmail author
  • Yu-Fai Leung
  • Erin Seekamp
  • Roger L. Moore


This research examined the determinants of responsible hiking behavior through a lab-based experiment in which two managerial factors believed to influence individuals’ behavior (the presentation of an educational message and the method of displaying degraded trail conditions) were varied across four experimental treatments in a 2 × 2 between subjects factorial design. The effect of trail degradation type (muddiness and erosion) and severity (moderate or severe) of trail degradation were also examined within each of the 4 treatment groups. Analyses revealed neither the educational message nor the method of displaying the image had a consistent and expected impact on individuals’ behavioral intentions. In fact, participants who viewed the educational message were more likely to indicate they would hike off the trail. The effects of both trail degradation type and severity were consistent and significant with muddiness and more severe levels of degradation having a greater influence on individuals’ intent to hike on the edge of or off the trail. The analyses also revealed both gender and hiking frequency had significant effects on behavioral intentions. Female participants were more likely to indicate they would turn around than males when they encountered degraded trail sections. Women were also less likely to indicate they would hike off the trail than men. Collectively, these findings highlight a variety of ways recreation resource managers can more efficiently inform recreationists about the impacts of off-trail hiking and prioritize trail management needs.


Contingent behavior Informational signage Mixed logit 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tian Guo
    • 1
  • Jordan W. Smith
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Yu-Fai Leung
    • 1
  • Erin Seekamp
    • 1
  • Roger L. Moore
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism ManagementNC State UniversityRaleighUSA
  2. 2.Center for Geospatial AnalyticsNC State UniversityRaleighUSA

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