The Person-Place Relationship in the Context of Isle Royale National Park: A Study of Place Attachment and Place-Based Affect

Open Access
Harmon, Laurlyn K
Graduate Program:
Leisure Studies
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
April 28, 2005
Committee Members:
  • Harry C Zinn, Committee Chair
  • Linda L Caldwell, Committee Member
  • Alan R Graefe, Committee Member
  • Theresa K Vescio, Committee Member
  • place
  • person-place relationship
  • place-based affect
  • affect
  • place attachment
  • place dependence
  • place identity
One purpose of this study was to test three constructs, place identity, place dependence, and place-based affect as dimensions of place attachment in the context of Isle Royale National Park (IRNP). An additional purpose was to examine the stability of the person-place relationship over time and between different physical dimensions of place. A final purpose was to examine the relationship between accumulated experience, participation in educational/interpretive programs and the person-place relationship. An exploratory factor analysis revealed three distinct constructs as hypothesized which were identified as place identity, place dependence, and place-based affect. Using a single measure of place attachment, a confirmatory factor analysis found the model of place identity and place dependence as first-order constructs of place attachment to be a good fit to the data. Place-based affect was not supported as a dimension but was retained in the remaining analyses as an independent construct. A 2 x 2 x 2 fully repeated measures analysis of variance (ANCOVA) testing the factors of place connection (i.e., place attachment and place-based affect), scale of place (i.e., IRNP as a whole and favorite place within IRNP), and time (i.e., departure day and three months later) was conducted on the data. Consistent with previous research, age, gender, length of stay, and previous visits to IRNP were entered into the analysis as covariates. No significant effects were found, which suggests that visitors’ place attachment and place-based affect are not momentary or short-lived phenomena. Inclusion of the time factor reduced the sample size from 245 to 64; therefore, an additional analysis was conducted without the time factor in order to analyze the results of the entire study sample. A 2 x 2 fully-repeated measure ANCOVA testing the factors of place connection and scale of place revealed a main effect of scale of place as well as interaction effects of scale of place x age and scale of place by previous visits. Age and previous visits were significant covariates. In the final analysis, multiple regression was conducted on the dependent variables, place attachment and place-based affect, and the independent variables, accumulated experience (i.e., length of stay, previous visits to IRNP, and previous visits to similar places) and educational/interpretive program participation. No significant predictors were found for place attachment. Length of stay and educational/interpretive program participation were positive predictors of place-based affect while previous visits to IRNP was a negative predictor. The model accounted for 6.6% of the total variance of place-based affect. The findings suggest place-based affect is not a dimension of place attachment as conceived in this study. However, it is important theoretically because it is intrinsic in the majority of place attachment definitions. Future research may consider alternative measures of place attachment in the overall model as well as test for different relationships between place identity, place dependence, place-based affect and place attachment. Implications for managers include the acknowledgement that high place-based affect was reported relative to IRNP. Also, educational/interpretive program participation has the potential to influence place attachment. Used in conjunction with research on outcomes relative to place attachment, this information provides managers with a better understanding of the psychological perspective of visitors to IRNP.