Faith-Based Tourists’ Emotional Solidarity in an Anticipated Travel Setting
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Tourists often travel in anticipation of affective bonds or emotional solidarity that comes from their relationships with other tourists. Studies on pilgrimage tourists (Kaell, 2014), heritage tourists (Caton & Santos, 2007), or volunteer tourists (Zahra & McIntosh, 2007) have commented on the influential role that emotional solidarity plays in shaping tourists’ expectations and experiences. Nevertheless, the studies to date have mostly relied on qualitative research methods in examining the topic, leaving limited possibility for explaining what makes tourists anticipate emotional solidarity with other tourists or how the resulting emotional solidarity guides their behavior. To address this literature gap, this study undertook mixed methods research of potential faith-based tourists in the United States by using the emotional solidarity theory (Durkheim, 1912/1995) and the interaction ritual theory (Collins, 1990; 1993) as the guiding theories. It was considered that the two theories were in a complementary relationship where the emotional solidarity theory specified the predictors (i.e. shared beliefs, shared behavior, and propensity to interact) of emotional solidarity while the interaction ritual theory supported the relationship between emotional solidarity and travel intention. The mixed methods research included three phases: a) content analysis of archival data to develop preliminary scales for the predictors of emotional solidarity, b) exploratory factor analysis (EFA) of pilot survey data (N = 124) to purify the preliminary scales, and c) structural equation modelling (SEM) of main survey data (N = 439) to test the psychometric properties of the purified scales and the hypothesized relationships between the constructs. Unlike other studies on tourists’ or residents’ emotional solidarity, this study posited two different types of shared beliefs and shared behavior: one specific to faith-based tourists’ iii anticipated trip and the other addressing their religion. Consequentially, scales were developed for five constructs (i.e., shared beliefs regarding the trip, shared beliefs regarding religion, shared behavior regarding the trip, shared beliefs regarding religion, and propensity to interact) that predict emotional solidarity. The scales were then proven sound in their validity and reliability in measuring their respective constructs. Structural models showed that potential faith-based tourists’ shared beliefs regarding the trip (b = 0.232), shared behavior regarding the trip (b = 0.211), and propensity to interact (b = 0.418) with other faith-based tourists positively influenced the formers’ emotional solidarity with the latter (R2 = 0.778). This in turn increased the former’s travel intention to the destination (R2 = 0.387). However, shared beliefs regarding religion and shared behavior regarding religion were not effective in predicting emotional solidarity. Furthermore, emotional solidarity fully mediated the influence of shared beliefs regarding the trip, shared behavior regarding the trip, and propensity to interact on emotional solidarity. Theoretically, the findings of this study can extend the scope of the emotional solidarity theory to include tourists’ intergroup relationship and anticipated travel settings. More importantly, they support a positive association between tourists’ social emotion and their economic behavior. In a practical sense, the findings of this study can help market diverse forms of tourism (e.g., nature tourism, fair-trade tourism, or sport tourism) where emotional solidarity among tourists makes up a significant part of their experiences. Some limitations of this study and suggestions for future research are also discussed in the final chapter.
Joo, Dongoh (2018). Faith-Based Tourists’ Emotional Solidarity in an Anticipated Travel Setting. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from