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The distortion of cognitive distance in outdoor recreation travel decisions
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While many studies have looked at the effect of various factors on cognitive distance, interactional effects of two or more factors have not been examined. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of information exposure, hierarchical structures, and interaction of these factors on distortions of cognitive distance in the context of outdoor recreation travel decisions. It was proposed that the accuracy of distance estimates would be influenced by levels of information exposure. It was also proposed that distance estimates would be distorted either when hierarchical information of the physical environment was present or absent. Gender and destination preference were expected to influence cognitive distance as well. Hypothetical national park maps were generated to test factors which presumably distort cognitive distances. Students were randomly assigned to experimental groups. They were exposed to maps that had one of two hierarchical categories and one of two information conditions. Information exposure (high or low) and hierarchical structures (with or without) were treated as experimental factors. Gender (female or male) and destination preference (high or low) were treated as blocking factors. SEE (standardized estimated error) was measured as the dependent variable which is presumably affected by experimental factors and blocking factors. Cognitive distances, actual distances, and other information such as the preference toward destinations were collected for further analysis. Data analysis indicated that people's cognitive distance is different from actual distance. The proposition that the accuracy of cognitive distance increased with the amount of information exposure was supported. The proposition that people distorted their cognitive distances when they received different hierarchical information was partially supported. The effect of hierarchical structures was proved significant only for those people with high information exposure. However, there was no evidence showing the existence of interaction between information exposure and hierarchical structures. Gender and the preference toward destinations were not found significant in influencing the distortion of cognitive distance on main effects either.
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Includes bibliographical references: p. 93-100.
Issued also on microfiche from Lange Micrographics.
Chang, Yu-Min (1997). The distortion of cognitive distance in outdoor recreation travel decisions. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from
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