Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Retail, Hospitality, and Tourism Management

Major Professor

Ann E. Fairhurst

Committee Members

Youn-Kyung Kim, Sejin Ha, Stefanie K. Benjamin, Stephanie M. Noble


Photographs are crucial elements that marketers integrate into all their marketing communication tools. As we can see from many brochures, websites, and billboards, many travel destinations portray the beauty of their locations through photographs aiming to attract more travelers to visit their destinations. In the same vein, tourists also use photographs as references for their decisions about where to spend their vacations. Due to this significant impact of photographs on tourism, marketers invest greatly in this visual stimulation tool. However, the impact of elements appearing in each photograph such as objects and color tones are overlooked. This experimental study investigates the effects of cool and warm color tones in a photograph taken from the same beach scene in a tourism context.

The results of the study reveal that although cool color tones are expected to generate only relaxation, in a beach photograph, cool color tones are able to trigger excitement as well as warm color tones do. It might be assumed that warm color tone photographs taken during sunset time are able to promote relaxation. In fact, cool color tones photographs trigger significantly more relaxation. The effects of cool and warm color tones in a beach photograph on perceived escapability were tested. The research model also reflects how excitement, relaxation, and perceived escapability lead to attitude toward the destination, the role of aesthetic evaluation and visual style of processing as moderators, and the relationship among affective responses, cognitive responses, attitude, and intention to visit a travel destination. This research also contributes to academic knowledge in the tourism context and thus fills a gap in previous literature.

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