In this research, identity theory was adapted to reassess a conceptualization of recreation specialization. Past work has conceptualized the construct principally in terms of a combination of three components: conative (behavior, skill, centrality), cognitive (identity) and affect (attraction). Based on the tenets of identity theory, it was hypothesized that the identity-related facet influences other conative and affective specialization facets. Analyses of data drawn from hikers along the Appalachian Trail provided empirical support for the reconceptualization. The data illustrate that processes underlying the expression and affirmation of identity influences respondents' attraction to hiking, hiking's role in their lives, their perceived skill, and behavioral involvement with the activity. Given these theoretical considerations, it is suggested that in addition to reconsidering the structure of specialization's conceptualization, future research should also consider more specifically isolating identity's influence on other facets of the construct. Beyond the hypothesized temporal structure, an identity-based approach may also have implications on measurement and a need to develop additional indicators for a range of leisure contexts.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
- Sociology and Political Science
- Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management