Reaching Recreationists at Different Levels of Moral Development


  • Harriet H. Christensen
  • Daniel L. Dustin


Moral development theory, interpretive messages, signs and posters, depreciative behavior, vandalism, recreation management.


Park and recreation agencies spend much time and money on interpretive messages as a source of information, as well as a medium of control for recreationists. This effort has never been evaluated, so the effectiveness of such messages is not really known. The framework we describe illustrates reasons why messages may or may not work and also suggests how they could be made more effective. First we identify several stages of moral development according to psychologists Lawrence Kohlberg and Carol Gilligan. Second we evaluate several interpretive messages currently used in the field in light of the identified stages and discuss the subsequent implications for recreation behavior. Finally, we suggest several directions for future research.?





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