Moral Justifications for Negative Screen Tourist Behaviour
Screen tourism has become increasingly more popular over the last two decades, and while it has positive benefits for stakeholders and destinations, screen tourists engaging in negative tourist behaviour has become a problem at popular screen tourism destinations. However, little is known about how screen tourists justify engaging in this negative behaviour. Bandura’s Moral Disengagement theory has been used in various non-tourism and tourism contexts to examine and explain how individuals justify negative behaviours. This thesis applies Moral Disengagement theory to negative tourist behaviour in a screen tourism context, aiming to examine screen tourists’ use of moral disengagement mechanisms to justify negative on-site tourist behaviour. It further draws on previous research and literature on fandom and level of leisure involvement to provide a better understanding of how these factors might influence screen tourists’ moral justification of negative behaviour. Data was collected using a self-administered online survey, distributed to individuals who self-identified as members of either the Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones fandoms, and received 243 eligible responses. The survey measured level of fandom involvement, participants’ use of moral disengagement mechanisms in three hypothetical scenarios presenting negative screen tourism related behaviours, and responses to Bandura’s Moral Disengagement scale.
Findings from this research suggest that some screen tourists morally justify engaging in negative behaviour in some contexts. This aligns with findings from previous research on moral disengagement and tourism. Furthermore, this research finds that mechanisms that are centred on disregarding/distorting the perceived harm on the victim were most frequently used. Lastly, groups were found to differ in their use of moral justification mechanisms, indicating that fandom identification, the moral alignment of the fandom object, and level of involvement influence individuals’ use of moral justification. It is also argued that (screen) tourism and fandom communities both have characteristics that facilitate moral disengagement. This knowledge can support screen tourism stakeholders in screen tourism development, and in mitigation of negative behaviours.