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dc.contributor.advisorLovelock, Brent
dc.contributor.advisorFilep, Sebastian
dc.contributor.authorWeidmann, Susan Gail
dc.identifier.citationWeidmann, S. G. (2018). What Screams Are Made Of: Exploring how imagery and language in fright tourism promotional materials invokes affective responses in visitors (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy). University of Otago. Retrieved from
dc.description.abstractBesides creating awareness of the operational elements of tourism attractions (e.g. location and opening hours), tourism promotional materials often communicate to potential visitors what the overall guest experience would be like, including emotions which might be experienced while participating in a given activity. This research project aimed to examine affective responses generated in visitors through language and imagery used in fright tourism promotional materials, specifically tourist brochures. In fright tourism, an unusual combination of human emotions such as fun and fear are experienced by tourists through activities such as haunted house visits and ghost tours. As an under-researched area, this study is one of a few to explore, in-depth, the emotions experienced at such attractions. Specifically, the research examines promotional material (brochures) related to a range of fright tourism attractions in Salem. The site of the infamous Salem witch trials of 1692, Salem, Massachusetts, United States, has become a popular tourism destination, and is the research site for this study. Today, tourism operators in Salem offer haunted house visits, ghost tours, monster museum experiences and interactive witch trial theatre experiences to domestic and international tourists. The study employed a mixed methods approach, the qualitative phase of the research comprising in-depth interviews with business owners of attractions in Salem and focus groups of potential visitors to determine what affective responses were intended and subsequently generated (or not) by the tourism brochures. The data on intended and actual affective responses was analysed through thematic analysis. Based on this analysis, a new model, based on the existing Circumplex Model of Affect (Russell, 1980), was developed which quantitatively measured emotions that are experienced at fright tourism attractions. The model was tested through a questionnaire administered to a sample of university students. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to analyse the data from this phase of the research. Key findings from the research can be summarised in the following way. Emotions and feelings are ambiguous terms that are often used interchangeably. Stock horror imagery was used to communicate emotions through Salem’s brochures, however as perceptions of horror are highly subjective, a new concept, personal horror, was defined and introduced through the research. Additionally, the interview and the focus group respondents suggested that religious taboos, the search for spiritual answers, attempts to disconnect from lives driven by technologies, and the desire to experience emotions one would never experience in real life, were reasons why tourists seek fright tourism experiences. This data helps broaden our understanding of the emotions experienced at fright tourism attractions, how positive and negative emotions can be experienced simultaneously, and how this influences the expectation of emotions communicated through fright tourism promotional materials. A fright tourism-specific model of human emotions was tested in the quantitative survey phase, with the key finding that statistically significant correlations exist between emotions in different quadrants on the model (positive/pleasant and negative/unpleasant). This suggests, contrary to the application of the Circumplex Model in more conventional tourism settings, that there is an expectation of contradictory emotions occurring at the same attraction. This challenges our understanding of the visitor experience and also ultimately contributes to our understanding of what (and how) to include in fright tourism promotional materials. Overall, this study helped broaden understandings of human emotions experienced at fright tourism attractions, provides a benchmark for measuring these emotions, and advances the conversation regarding marketing of these attractions to consumers.
dc.publisherUniversity of Otago
dc.rightsAll items in OUR Archive are provided for private study and research purposes and are protected by copyright with all rights reserved unless otherwise indicated.
dc.subjectscare attractions
dc.subjectmixed methods
dc.subjectfright tourism
dc.titleWhat Screams Are Made Of: Exploring how imagery and language in fright tourism promotional materials invokes affective responses in visitors
dc.language.rfc3066en of Philosophy of Otago
otago.openaccessAbstract Only
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