Visitors' Responses to Uniformed Park Employees


  • Thomas C. Swearingen
  • Darryll R. Johnson


Perceived need, depreciative behavior, direct/indirect management, noncompliant be~avior, uniforms, authority figures, visitor management.


Uniformed personnel used to control undesirable visitor behavior in parks and wilderness could be viewed as unnecessarily intrusive on the visitor experience. However, little research documents the effectiveness of either direct regulatory or intrusive visitor management tactics or visitors' attitudes toward such management tactics. In this study, a behavioral experiment (N = 7899) was conducted to determine the effect of the presence of uniformed park employees on off-trail hiking among park visitors. The presence of a uniformed park employee was found to be a significant deterrent to off-trail hiking in a major national park. Additional information from a related mail survey (N = 1131) is interpreted to explain visitors' positive responses to the presence of uniformed employees. Visitors accepted the uniformed employee presence when there was a perceived need for such a management action related to information dissemination, visitor safety and resource protection.





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