Environmental Management

, Volume 63, Issue 3, pp 366–378 | Cite as

Merging elaboration and the theory of planned behavior to understand bear spray behavior of day hikers in Yellowstone National Park

  • Zachary D. MillerEmail author
  • Wayne Freimund
  • Elizabeth Covelli Metcalf
  • Norma Nickerson
  • Robert B. Powell


This research empirically merges together two related theories: the elaboration likelihood model and the theory of planned behavior. A structural equation modeling approach is used to evaluate the relationship between the two theories and their collective impacts on behavioral intentions. The results suggest elaboration predicts the components of the theory of planned behavior (attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavior control), which in turn all predicted behavior intentions. Furthermore, results showed that the components of the theory of planned behavior partially meditated the relationship between elaboration and behavioral intentions, indicating that elaboration works mostly through the components of the theory of planned behavior to impact behavioral intentions. This study represents an improved understanding of the influence of communication techniques on visitor behaviors in sustainable tourism settings. Additionally, the discussion exemplifies how these techniques can be used to improve communications and evaluate communication strategies.


Parks Protected areas Communication Behavior Wildlife Elaboration 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism ManagementThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism ManagementClemson UniversityClemsonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Society and ConservationThe University of MontanaMissoulaUSA

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