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The Application of Self-Congruity Theory in Tourism Essay Sample

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Introduction of TOPIC

ABSTRACT

This article will attempt to provide a theoretical framework of the development of the self-congruent theory utilized in tourism by reviewing relevant literatures, highlighting landmark opinions and comparing the constructive models regarding pertinent issues, including destination image, destination branding, tourist destination choice, consumer needs, motivation, tourist segmentation etc. This article attempts to build a comprehensive model focusing on the vital role of self-congruity in the process of destination choice in a broad societal and cultural context.

KEYWORDS. Self-congruity, destination image, destination branding, tourist destination choice, self-image, self-concept

1. Introduction

Tourism, as the business of attracting visitors and catering to their needs, has rapidly grown into the world’s largest industry, surpassing autos, steel, electronics, and agriculture (McIntosh, Goeldner, and Ritchie 1995). In current society, there exists fierce competition in the tourism industry. To be more specific, excessive destinations attempt to attract more tourists by adopting various marketing methods. In that case, the study of tourist behavior during the destination choosing process is becoming increasingly important.

This article mainly conducts a research in consumer from the perspective of self-concept in order to help to explain the psychological underpinnings of travel behavior. Indeed, consumer research has had a long tradition of addressing how self-concept is used as a cognitive referent in evaluating symbolic cues. In today’s highly competitive market, consumers are not only surrounded by numerous brands but also exposed to many different marketing practices that are developed to differentiate these brands from their competitors. The concept of branding has been extensively applied to products and services in the generic marketing field (Blain, Levy, & Ritchie, 2005), but brands are found in many categories of tourism products and permeate almost all facets of tourism activities (Cai, 2002).

2. Identification of concepts

2.1 Self-image and self-concept

James(1890) defined the self-concept as all that we call our own, and with whom or with which we share a bond of identity. Many other traditional definitions of the self-concept focus on a unitary self (e.g., Allport 1943; Cooley 1902; Lecky 1945; Mead 1934). Self-concept is the sum total of individuals’ ideas, thoughts and feelings about themselves in relation to other objects in a socially determined frame of reference (Onkvisit and Shaw 1987; 1994), representing a perception of one’s abilities, limitations, appearance, characteristics, and personality.

One part of self-concept is the notion of self-esteem, or the assessments of self-worth and self-respect (Rosenberg 1979: 54). Another part of self-concept is comprised of self-image, or the set of attributes used by people to describe what they are like (Kimmel and Tissier-Desbordes 1999; Sirgy, Grewal, Manglebrug, Park, Chon, Claiborne, Johar, and Berkman 1997). The concept is multi-dimensional, encompassing such components as the actual-self (how individuals perceive themselves to be), the ideal-self (how an individual would like to be), an actual social self-image (how the individual thinks others view him/her self), and an ideal social self-image (how the individual would like others to view him/her self) (Mollenkopf and Moore 1999).

2.2 Destination image and branding

Tourists have stereotypic images of different destinations. Some researchers propose that the destination environmental cues attributes to the formation of destination image. Destination atmospheric cues, such as the natural landscape, historic interests, hotel design, and tourism infrastructure, form the overall context within which tourists make travel and patronage decisions and are likely to have a significant impact on destination image (Gartner 1989, 1993). One of the factor representing the image is the visitors’ image of the destination. Keller define brand image as “perceptions about a brand as reflected by the brand associations hel in consumer memory”.

Aaker defiend brand personality as “the set of human characteristics associated with a brand”. According to Lawson & Baud Bovy (1977), (as cited in Jenkins, 1999), destination image is “the expression of all objective knowledge, impressions, prejudice, imaginations, and emotional thoughts an individual or group might have of a particular place.” Blain, Levy & Ritchie (2005) defined destination branding as: The marketing activities (1) that support the creation of a name, symbol, logo, word mark or other graphic that both identifies and differentiates a destination; (2) that convey the promise of a memorable travel experience that is uniquely associated with the destination; and (3) that serve to consolidate and reinforce the recollection of pleasurable memories of the destination experience, all with the intent purpose of creating an image that influences’ consumers’ decisions to visit the destination in question, as opposed to an alternative one.

Adapting Aaker’s (1997) research, Hosany, Ekinci, & Uysal (2006, p. 639) defined destination personality as “the set of human characteristics associated to a tourism destination.”Hosany and Ekinci (2003) argue that an overall destination image is made up of brand personality, affective components, and what is referred to as the cognitive image. This connection reflects the importance of a match between the needs and self-image of the tourist and their perceptionof the brand personality of the destination.

2.3 Self-congruity and consumer behaviour

As applied to consumer behavior, it has been theorized that many purchase behavioral decisions are affected by one’s self-concept (Sirgy 1982; 1985b;Sirgy et al. 1997). The congruity of self-concept with product or brand mental representation refers to the match between those two images and plays an important role in consumer behavior since it constitutes a basic mechanism on which individuals base their brand preferences. One of the first explanations of this method was offered by Grubb and Grathwohl(1967). Sirgy (1982) stresses that the need for individual reassurance from others is one of the basic principles of self-concept that drive consumers. Many have conducted research on the congruity of self-concept and brand symbols. Seminal pioneering works include those of Martineau (1958), who recognizes congruity as a factor influencing the choice of establishment. Analyzing these from a multi-faceted perspective of self-concept, Sirgy (1982) concludes that consumers tend to prefer or purchase products that are consistent with their real and ideal self-concepts,

3. Identification of measuring methods

Malhotra(1981) developed a scale to measure self and product concepts, comprised of 15 semantic differential items which in effect measure personality characteristics. In Malhotra’s approach, which was developed for traditional goods and services, the 15-item scale was used to measure perceptions of products as well as the actual, ideal and social self. Euclidean distances between the profile of the products and the self-concepts were correlated with preference rankings to determine whether respondents had greater preference for products more congruent with their self concepts (Malhotra,1988). The traditional method of measuring self-congruity is based on tapping participants’perceptions of destination visit image and participants’ perceptions of their self-image in relation the destination patron image.

Then, a discrepancy or ratio score with each image dimension is mathematically computed, and the discrepancy scores are summed across all dimensions. Indeed, most studies in consumer self-concept research (in relation to consumer goods and services) have measured self-congruity using some kind of mathematical discrepancy index between consumer self-concept and the product-user image (Claiborne and Sirgy 1990; Sirgy 1982,1985a; Sirgy et al. 1997) Sirgy (1997) designed a new method to measure self-image congruence; however, their research focused on self-image congruence only in consumer goods and services settings. Sirgy argued that this method does not cue participantsto a specific image category or dimension.

The method cues participants to conjure up their own image of the dest

ination visitor. Then, the method guides them to indicate their global perception of degree of match

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or mismatch between howthey see themselves (self-image) and the destination patron image. In other words, this measurement procedure captures self-congruity directly (not by measuring destination visitor image and self-image separately) and globally (not by asking participants to indicate their perception of congruity with predetermined images). As such, the new method assumes that self-image congruence is processed holistically or globally, not analytically or piecemeal as the traditional method assumed. In comparing the predictive validity of the new method with that of the traditional method, the new method was found to be more predictive of various consumer behaviors and attitudes across six different studies.

4. Review of self-congruity frameworks
4.1 Chon

Chon raised the positive and negative self-image congruity in the following situations: First, a “positive self-image congruity” occurs when there exists a state of positive self-congruity (a low discrepancy between one’s actual self-image and the product image) and a state of positive ideal self-congruity (a low discrepancy between one’s ideal self-image and the product image). Second, a “positive self-image incongruity” condition occurs when there exists a state of negative self-congruity (a high discrepancy between one’s actual self-image and the product image), but a state of positive ideal self-congruity (low discrepancy between one’s ideal self-image and the product image.) In this situation ,the individual might be motivated to purchase the product but the satisfaction level would be moderate. Third, a “negative self-image incongruity” condition is the opposite of the “positive self-image incongruity” condition.

That is , there is a state of positive self-congruity (low discrepancy between one’s actual self-image and the product image), but a state of negative ideal self-congruity (high discrepancy bewtween one’s ideal self-image and the product image). THe situation again would resulti in a moderate satisfaction level because the individual’s self-consistency motive would conflict with his or hter self-esteem motive. Finally, the negative self-image congruity” occurs when there exists negative slef-congruity (high discrepancy between one’s actual self-image and the product image), as well as negative ideal congruity (high discrepancy between his or her ideal self-image and the product image). The satisfaction level would be the lowest because the purchase of the product serves no function to the maintenance of either the self-esteem of self-consistency motives.

4.2 Stephen W. Litvin, Goh Hwai Kar & Ronald E.Goldsmith The research applies innovativeness and self-reference theory to explore the manifestation of self-congruity in destination choice. The research finds that tourism innovators have a distinctly unique self-image when compared to late adopters and suggests means that tourism marketers of innovative products can use to target these important potential customers.

This paper has reported self-image characteristics related to Singaporean travel innovators. These specific characteristics, however, may or may not hold consistent in other locales and it is suggested that tourism marketers invest the effort necessary to understand how innovators within their target markets see themselves. To be heard above the cacophony of an ever increasingly competitive marketplace, successful marketers of new products must that their messaging and product positioning, functional as well as symbolic (Chon 1991), reflect the image-of-self of these critically important customers. Lewis andBridger (2000) argue that consumers in the 21st Century are becoming more individualistic and are seeking products and services that express and reinforce their individualism. If this is so, the concept of product~user image should only increase in importance as tourism marketers seek means to motivate the early purchase of new destinations and products.

4.3 M. Joseph Sirgy and Chenting Su

An integrative model of destination image, self-congruity, and travel behavior is described in this article. In particular, the model postulates relationships between destination environment, destination visitor image, tourists’ self-concept, self-congruity, functional congruity, behavior. Travel behavior is hypothesized to be by both self-congruity and functional congruity. Selfcongruity is the match between the destination visitor image and tourists’ self-concept (actual, ideal, social, and ideal social self-image). Functional congruity is the match between the utilitarian attributes of the destination and the tourist’s ideal expectations related to those attributes.

Self-congruity is hypothesized to influence functional congruity. It is argued that the destination environment influences the formation and change of the destination visitor image and the tourist-perceived utilitarian destination attributes. To be more specific, the research identifies several cues of the destination environment to form a destination image: atmospheric cues, service cues, price cues, location cues, promotion cues. In addition, the paper states the mediating effect of self-concept motive on the relationship between self-congruity and travel behaviour, nad the factor afeecting the activation of self-concept dimensions, which include destination conspicusness, co-touring, age and response mode. In depth, the paper also identified moderator effects affecting the relationship between self-congruity(functional congruity) and travel behaviour.

4.4 Laurie Murphy Pierre Benckendorff Gianna Moscardo

This study explored the links among four key constructs proposed for the destination branding and choice process–tourist needs, destination brand personality, self-congruity, and intentions to visit and satisfaction with a visit. The results in- dicate that where tourists can make an association between a destination and a destination brand personality, and where this association is consistent with their desired holiday experience, a high level of congruity will exist between the tourists’ self-image and their perceptions of the destination. In turn this self-congruity was related to satisfaction with a visit to the destination but not to intention to travel to the destination. The research proposed a model which argues that potential and actual tourist markets should be able to be identified based on their needs.

Then if these markets have a perception of the brand personality of a destination that matches their desired experience, they should have high self-congruity,and this in turn should be related to stronger intentions to visit the destination and, for those that have visited the destination, higher satisfaction, as long as the destination meets the expectations associated with the destination image. Specifically, the study was guided by the fol- lowing hypotheses; H1.

Tourist motivations and destination brand personality perceptions will influence perceptions of self-congruity in rela- tion to the destination, H2. Tourist perceptions of destination features other than brand personality characteristics will influence their atti- tudes towards the destination, as demonstrated in satisfaction with the destination and/or intention to visit, and H3. Tourist perceptions of self- congruity in relation to the destination will influence their attitudes towards the destination, as demonstrated in satisfaction with the destination and/or intention to visit.

4.5Asuncio´n Beerli, Gonzalo Dı´az Meneses, Sergio Moreno Gil The objective of this work is to clarify the role of self-congruity, understood as congruity between tourists’ self-concept and the image of a destination, in their choice of it. The empirical research finds that the greater the agreement between a destination’s image and one’s self-concept, the greater the tendency for the tourist to visit that place. Moreover, self-congruity loses this determining power when one has already visited a place. The findings further proved the hypothesis which suggested that the greater the tourist’s involvement in leisure tourism, the greater its power to predict destination choice was wrong.

5. Conlusion
Moderator
1) knowledge
2) prior visit
3) time pressure
4) individualism
collectivism
5) innovativeness
Moderator
1) knowledge
2) prior visit
3) time pressure
4) individualism
collectivism
5) innovativeness

Based on the framework and theory proposed by the literature reviewed above, a more comprehensive model is raised regarding various dimension of factors by the author. The model can be seen as follow: 1) Actual self-concept

2) Ideal self-concept
3) Actual social self-concept
4) Ideal social self-concept

1) Actual self-concept
2) Ideal self-concept
3) Actual social self-concept
4) Ideal social self-concept

Tourist
Self-Concept
Tourist
Self-Concept

Destination Image
Destination Image
Destination
Environment
1) Atmospheric cues
2 )Service cues
3) Price cues
4 )Location cues
5) Promotion cues
Destination
Environment
1) Atmospheric cues
2 )Service cues
3) Price cues
4 )Location cues
5) Promotion cues

Overall Image
/Attitude towards the destination
Overall Image
/Attitude towards the destination

Travel behavior
Travel behavior
Self-congruity
Self-congruity
Brand personality
Brand personality
Tourist needs
Tourist needs

Destination Visitor Image
Destination Visitor Image

Satisfation with destiantion
Satisfation with destiantion
Intention to visit or reapeat
Intention to visit or reapeat

Functional
congruity
Functional
congruity

Tourist Ideal Utilitarian destination attributes
Tourist Ideal Utilitarian destination attributes
Tourist perceived utilitarian destination attributes
Tourist perceived utilitarian destination attributes

References
Allport, G. W. (1943). Becoming: Basic Considerations for a Psychology of Personality. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Backman, S., and J. Crompton (1991). “Differentiating between High, Spurious, Latent, and Low Loyalty Participants in Two Leisure Activities.” Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, 9 (2): 1-17. Beerli A.,Meneses G.D.,Gil S.M.,Self-congruity and destination choice(2007)ls of Tourism Research,34(3),pp.571-87 Chon, K. (1990). “The Role of Destination Image in Tourism: A Review and Discussion.” The Tourist Review, 45 (2): 2-9. Chon, K. (1992). “Self-Image/Destination-Image Congruity.” Annals of Tourism
Research, 19: 360-63. Cooley, C. H. (1902). Human Nature and the Social Order. New York: Charles Scribner and Sons. Gartner, W. C. (1989). “Tourism Image: Attribute Measurement of State Tourism Products Using Multidimensional Scaling Techniques.” Journal of Travel Research, 28 (2): 16-20. Grubb, E., and H. Grathwohl (1967) Consumer Self-concept, Symbolism and Market Behavior, a Theoretical Approach. Journal of Marketing 31:25–26. Hu, Y., and B. Ritchie (1993). “Measuring Destination Attractiveness: A Contextual Approach.” Journal of Travel Research, 32 (2): 25-34. James, William (1890). The Principles of Psychology. New York: Holt. land Press.

Lecky, P. (1945). Self-Consistency: A Theory of Personality. New York: Is- Litvin S.W.,Karl G.H.(2003), Individualism/collectivism as a moderatin factor to the self-image congruity concept, Journal of Vacation Marketing: 10(23) Litvin S.W.,Karl G.H.,Goldsmith R.E.,Travel innovativeness and self-image congruity,Journal of travel & tourism marketing: 10:4, 33-45 Malhotra, N. K. (1981). A scale to measure self-concepts, person concepts and product concepts. Journal of Marketing Research, 18(4), 456-464. Markus, H., and P. Nurius (1986). “Possible Selves.” American Psychologist, 4: 954-69. Martineau, P.(1958) The Personality of the Retail Store. Harvard Business Review 36:47–55. McIntosh, R. W., C. R. Goeldner, and J.R.B. Ritchie (1995). Tourism: Principles, Practices, Philosophies. New York: John Wiley & Sons. Mead, G. H. (1934). Mind, Self, and Society. Chicago: Chicago University Press. Murphy L.,Benckendorff P.,Moscardo G.(2008), Linking travel motivation, tourist self-image and destination brand personality, Jounal of travel & tourism marketing:22(2) Onkvisit, S. and Shaw, J. (1987). Self-Concept and Image Congruence: Some Research and Managerial Implications. Journal of Consumer Behavior, Vol. 4(1), pp. 13-23. Onkvisit, S. and Shaw, J. (1994). Consumer Behavior: Strategy and Analysis. New York,NY: Macmillan College Publishing. Rosenberg, M. (1979). Conceiving the Self, New York: Basic Books. Sirgy, M. J., Grewal, D., Manglebrug, T. F., Park, J., Chon, K., Claiborne, C. B., Johar, J.S., and Berkman, H. (1997). Assessing the Predictive Validity of Two Methods of Measuring Self-Image Congruence. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 24(3), 229-241. Sirgy, M. Joseph. (1986). Self-Congruity: Toward a Theory of Personality and Cybernetics. New York: Praeger. Sirgy, M.J. (1985a).
Self-image /Product-image Congruity and Consumer Decision Making, International Journal of Management, 2 (4): 49-63. Sirgy, M.J. (1982). Self-Concept in Consumer Behavior: A Critical Review. Journal of Consumer Research, 9: 287-300. Sirgy,M.J.,Su,C.,(2000).Self-congruity, and travel behavior: toward an integrative model. Journal of Travel Research,2000(38):340 Usakli A.(2005) relationship between destination personality, self-congruity, and behavioral intentions, Thesis

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