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Citation for publication number 368:
Stewart, William P.; Cole, David N. 1999. In search of situational effects in outdoor recreation: Different methods, different results. Leisure Sciences 21(4): 269-286.
Leopold Publication Number 368
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     Relationships between outdoor recreation situations and experiences have been the targets of widespread research interest. Although scores of studies are directed at understanding linkages between various situational conditions and satisfaction, crowding, and various experiences, empirical evidence has not been highly supportive of consistent relationships across studies. The lack of persuasive evidence regarding situational effects may be an artifact of the traditional research design associated with outdoor recreation research. Specifically, the posttrip mailback questionnaire is limited in its ability to assess situational effects because of (a) reliance on long-term memory, (b) inappropriate use of global measures, and (c) inability to distinguish situational from individual differences. Within the empirical portion of this article, analyses using time length of encounters and perceived crowding illustrate contrasting results between a mailback questionnaire and a diary-like method from a sample of overnight backcountry uses at Grand Canyon National Park. Results of the mailback questionnaire are aligned with past studies of the same variables in that less than 10% of the variance of crowding was explained. Using the same sample, results of a multilevel analysis associated with a diary-like method indicated that 84% of study participants exhibited significant positive relationships between perceived crowding and time length of encounters. The concluding discussion argues that the search for situational effects could be assisted by use of diary-like methods.