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Yilmaz, Fatima (2024) Happiness in Tourism: A Cross-Cultural Study of American and Chinese Tourists. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25501/SOAS.00041816

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Abstract

Understanding happiness is a crucial aspect that has been receiving attention in contemporary tourism literature, particularly in relation to the theorisation of tourist happiness. Most wellbeing researchers in psychology literature conceptualise happiness as a multidimensional construct with the belief that a combination of both hedonia and eudaimonia is needed for an optimal existence (Seligman, 2002; Huta, 2016). However, previous tourist happiness studies define happiness hedonically (i.e., in terms of pleasure and positive emotions) within the theoretical framework of hedonia (e.g. Gilbert and Abdullah, 2004; Nawijn, 2010; Chen and Phou, 2013, De Bloom et al., 2011, Sie et al., 2018). In tourism research, adopting this onedimensional perspective inevitably leads to the neglect of eudaimonic factors in tourism, and then the failure to understand the effect of vacation on tourist happiness comprehensively (Nawijn and Filep, 2016; Filep and Laing, 2019; Su, Tang and Nawijn, 2020). Accordingly, studies have attempted to incorporate the concepts of eudaimonia and hedonia into their research aims to understand tourist happiness (e.g. Chen, Lehto and Cai, 2013; de Bloom et al., 2017; Kay Smith and Diekmann, 2017; Lengieza, Hunt and Swim, 2019; Su, Tang and Nawijn, 2020). However, there is still a need for greater research to understand the hedonic and eudaimonic orientations to tourist happiness (Filep and Laing, 2019; Lee and Jeong, 2019). Especially, there is a call for the eudaimonic aspects of the tourist experience to be studied quantitatively (e.g., Nawijn and Filep, 2016). Besides, remarkably, to date, cross-cultural research on the sources of tourist happiness remains scarce in the literature. Therefore, this study addresses these gaps in the literature by providing a symmetric operationalisation of hedonic and eudaimonic sources of happiness through assessing the role of positive emotions (hedonia), meaning (eudaimonia), and engagement (flow) as three sources of tourist happiness based on authentic happiness theory. Further, there have been a call to encourage research addressing the link between self-congruity and happiness in tourism context (e.g., Sirgy, 2019). So, unique to this study, it sought to extend Peterson, Park and Seligman's (2005) framework of orientations to happiness by introducing actual self-congruity and ideal self-congruity as an additional path to tourist happiness. Using three key theories; authentic happiness theory, self-congruity theory, and the broadenand- build theory of positive emotion, the aim of this study empirically was to test an integrative model linking the paths to tourist happiness, and tourist behavioural intentions (i.e., revisit intention and recommendation intention) and overall image. This study sought to develop a ii cross-cultural framework moderated by cultural dimensions (indulgence/restraint and individualism/collectivism) and mediated by perceived destination uniqueness. Further, the model examines the impact of situational stress (in this study, it refers to the recent COVID- 19 outbreak) on tourist happiness and its outcomes (tourist behavioural intentions and perceived overall image). Testing the integrative model was performed using data sourced from a purposive random sample of 460 tourists from the U.S. and 440 tourists from China visited to London. Using Structural Equation Modelling (SEM), a powerful multivariate statistical analysis technique, the result shows that tourist happiness can be understood through positive emotions, meaning, engagement and, unique to the current study, actual and ideal self-congruity. Further, the results statistically confirm that tourists’ happiness influences tourist intention to revisit and recommend and perceived overall image. In addition, perceived destination uniqueness partially mediates the relationship between tourists’ happiness and tourist behavioural intentions (intention to recommend and intention to revisit) and tourists’ post-travel overall image perception. The moderation impact of individualism/collectivism are either partially or fully supported for the relationships between tourist happiness and its antecedents, whereas indulgence/restrained serves as a moderating variable only in the relationship between positive emotions and tourist happiness, and this holds true across both samples examined. Further, the findings substantiate that situational stress due to COVID-19 negatively influences the relationship between tourist happiness and revisit intention. However, situational stress due to COVID-19 does not appear to have a significant moderating effect on the relationships between tourist happiness and perceived overall image and recommend intention. Finally, several invariance analyses were performed to examine if the proposed framework can be generalised across different samples (U.S. and China); the results support factor structure equivalence (configural invariance), partial loadings equivalence (partial metric invariance) and measurement (scalar) equivalence). The results and implications are then discussed in relation to tourism stakeholders before the limitations and suggestions for future researchers are provided.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
Keywords: Tourist happiness, Hedonia, Eudaimonia, Self-congruity, Tourist behavioural intentions, Perceived overall image, Culture
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Ibrahim Abosag
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): https://doi.org/10.25501/SOAS.00041816
Date Deposited: 22 Apr 2024 16:50
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/41816
Funders: Other

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