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Atmospherics and consumers' symbolic interpretations of hedonic services

Sacha Joseph‐Mathews (Assistant Professor, Eberhardt School of Business, University of the Pacific, Stockton, California, USA)
Mark A. Bonn (Professor, Dedman School of Hospitality, College of Business, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, USA)
David Snepenger (Professor, Marketing Department, College of Business, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana, USA)

International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research

ISSN: 1750-6182

Article publication date: 7 August 2009



The purpose of this research is to examine the impact of atmospherics on consumer symbolic interpretations, and various psychological outcomes in a purely hedonic service environment.


Field data were collected from 500 respondents in Florida across four hedonic service attraction sites and then analyzed using MANOVA in SPSS. A mediation method proposed by Baron and Kenny is utilized to determine the mediating role of consumer symbolic interpretations in the nomological network.


There were four major findings. First, similar to other service sectors, environmental factors do play a critical role in determining behavioral intentions in hedonic services. Second, patrons conceptualize hedonic attractions/services in terms of both utilitarian and hedonic components. Third, consumer symbolic perceptions (meanings) do affect behavioral intentions. Finally, consumers do evaluate their service environments (ambient, design and layout and social factors) differently depending on the meanings they attach to a service environment.

Research limitations/implications

Managers can tailor service environments to match the symbolic interpretations and behavioral outcomes they would like to foster in order to maximize monies spent on physical upgrades. Additional work is needed in the area of consumer meanings and symbolic interpretations.


The study indicates that the service environment can be used as a differentiating tool to perpetuate brand meaning and uniqueness in the minds of the consumer, thereby creating a competitive advantage for the hedonic facilities and by extension ensuring repeat patronage.



Joseph‐Mathews, S., Bonn, M.A. and Snepenger, D. (2009), "Atmospherics and consumers' symbolic interpretations of hedonic services", International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research, Vol. 3 No. 3, pp. 193-210.



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