Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Means-end theory in tourism research.

McDonald, Seonaidh; Thyne, Maree; McMorland, Leigh-Ann


Seonaidh McDonald

Maree Thyne

Leigh-Ann McMorland


Means-end theory has been widely used in marketing to identify values-based motivations behind consumption (Reynolds and Olson 2001). It has also been adopted by researchers arguing that it deepens understanding of tourist behavior by linking specific service attributes with personal values (McIntosh and Thyne 2005). This enables effective targeting of services and the communications designed to promote them, leading to higher levels of tourist satisfaction. The applicability of the means-end technique in research is not disputed. However, within the tourism literature no consideration has yet been given to the fact that there are two distinct approaches to applying it (hard and soft laddering), which have different conventions for establishing terminal values, and, more importantly, are underpinned by quite different assumptions about what constitutes a value. Recent empirical work has prompted this research note to examine the methodological implications of both approaches and question their adequacy for qualitative research.


MCDONALD. S., THYNE, M. and MCMORLAND, L.-A. 2008. Means-end theory in tourism research. Annals of tourism research [online], 35(2), pages 596-599. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 29, 2007
Online Publication Date May 13, 2008
Publication Date Apr 30, 2008
Deposit Date Jun 29, 2009
Publicly Available Date Jun 29, 2009
Journal Annals of tourism research
Print ISSN 0160-7383
Electronic ISSN 1873-7722
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 35
Issue 2
Pages 596-599
Keywords Tourism research; Means end theory
Public URL


Downloadable Citations