It's not where you do it, it's who you do it with?
Individuals often recreate with others, but models of recreation-site choice (which ski area, climbing route, golf course, or bike trail) ignore the social aspect—a trait they share with most choice models. Site-choice models seek to explain site choice as a function of only the cost of visiting each site, the physical characteristics of the sites, income, and other characteristics of the individual. They ignore the influence of others on site choice. We find, using choice experiments, that having a companion and the companion's relative ability are critical determinants of site choice—what social psychology would predict. One will often choose a site less preferred in terms of its costs and characteristics if one has a companion of one's ability at the lesser site but not at the better site. Companions of comparable ability are preferred over companions that are better or worse. And, importantly, how one values the physical characteristics of sites depends on whether one has a companion. The magnitudes of our estimated companion effects suggest recreation-demand models that ignore them, all do, omit a critical endogenous variable. An implication is that observed trip patterns can be generated by social-interaction game playing (“where I go depends on where you go and …”), not utility maximization in isolation. This paper does not model the game; it estimates a recreator's utility/reaction function with companion effects, showing the importance of the social component.
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Volume (Year): 5 (2012)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
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