Research Topic

Outside the Comfort Zone: What Can Psychology Learn from Tourism (and vice versa)

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Today, tourism represents a pivotal, not interchangeable social practice, able to displace substantial individual, social, cultural, environmental and economic forces (and resources).
As an economic reality tourism has become one of the major players in international commerce with a business volume ...

Today, tourism represents a pivotal, not interchangeable social practice, able to displace substantial individual, social, cultural, environmental and economic forces (and resources).
As an economic reality tourism has become one of the major players in international commerce with a business volume that equals and even surpasses that of oil exports, food products or automobiles as reported by the World Tourism Organization, 2019.

Tourism provides a job to 1/10 of the global population and has become the main job opportunity for many developing countries. Moreover, it is importantly linked to many cogent issues of social, cultural and environmental relevance including economic growth, poverty reduction, social equity, cultural heritage conservation, diversity acceptation, social inclusiveness, mutual understanding, peace, safety, and security.
As for the World Tourism Organization from 2017, tourism has been described as involving important themes of social, individual and inter-individual relevance such as quality of life, well-being, personal health and resilience, close relationships and sociality. In other words, tourism overlaps with a number of ideas that have been fundamental themes of research investigation in psychology. Tourism is, in fact, able to cross specific domains spanning from social psychology to work and organizational psychology, from environmental psychology to economic psychology, from health psychology to family psychology, positive psychology as an example.

Despite its central role in modern western societies, tourism has always encountered serious difficulties in being accepted as a relevant field of scientific interest in psychology as Pearce Berno & Ward have suggested. The reasons might lie in part on the apparent superficiality of the topic, which is connected to leisure and amusement, often seen as superfluous and marginal moments of the individual and social life.

The apparently playful aura that tourism is labeled with, might have obscured the intrinsic seriousness of the tourism-related issues, as well as the relevance of their investigation for reaching a full understanding of modern human behavior. The difficulty encountered by tourism psychology to merge with the rest of the academic research in psychology might also derive from other serious reasons. One of these could relate to issues of theoretical and methodological nature that have seen tourism psychology transformed into a field of experimentation of new approaches and perspectives, not all of which are in line with those representing the mainstreams of the broader psychological field. A sort of theoretical drift that seems to have led colleagues in tourism psychology to break away from the fields of origin and trace new connections with theories and methods closer to those areas that appear to have better understood the importance of this human behavior (as, for example, the fields of economy, geography and, the emerging, managerial engineering). Likely because already involved in the demanding process of opening new interdisciplinary communication channels, tourism psychologists have, thus, demonstrated a tendency to focus more on the way in which psychology can help addressing tourism issues, than on the way in which tourism studies can provide additional knowledge in psychology.

As a matter of fact, this field lacks manuscripts and research that attempt to define connections in both directions.

The goal of this Research Topic is to try to establish, or re-establish, effective communication between psychology and the psychology of tourism field. Our aim is to show how it is possible within this field to undertake a theoretically and methodologically founded research work aiming to promote advancements in both the tourism and the psychological field.

This Research Topic offers tourism specialists the opportunity to address their investigations and studies within the broader psychological field and will allow psychology as a discipline to broaden its view on human behavior by covering a too often neglected research area.

We welcome manuscripts providing theoretical or empirical contributions (both quantitative and/ or qualitative) focused on any topic relevant to the tourism field.

We welcome authors to submit manuscripts focusing their work on:

- competent use of well-established theoretical models in psychology. Contributions from all areas of psychology are relevant and welcome, these include, for example, social psychology, organizational psychology, environmental psychology, health psychology, family psychology, community psychology, positive psychology, etc.
- a rigorous application of methods and techniques proper of the specific psychological field considered
- a convincing introductory part and discussion section that highlights the substantial relevance of the study for increasing the scientific knowledge in both the tourism and broader psychological domain
- research reviews or theoretical discussions of the literature including a discussion of tourism contribution to increasing scientific knowledge as regards specific areas of psychology or generally.


Keywords: Environmental Psychology, Tourist psychology, psychology and tourism communication, work and organizational psychology in tourism, family psychology and tourism, psychology and sustainable tourism


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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