How Travel Makes Us Happy: The Integrated Travel-Happiness (T-H) Model of Cognitive Appraisal Theory and Self-Determination Theory




Lee, You Jia

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University of Guelph


Previous studies have shown that tourism brings happiness or well-being to tourists. However, how travel leads to tourist well-being is still not fully understood. This research addresses that gap by integrating Cognitive Appraisal Theory (CAT) and Self-Determination Theory (SDT) to predict tourist well-being. This study used a quantitative approach with a sample population of tourists who have travelled abroad for at least 3 days in the past 12 months. Data was collected from an online panel owned by the Centre of Tourism Research in Prince Edward Island (PEI). A final sample of 396 was subjected to data analysis. Two-step analysis, Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) and Structural Equation Modelling (SEM), was performed. The findings support the predictions of CAT and SDT and establish connections between the theories. SDT’s psychological needs of autonomy and relatedness mediate between the positive emotions elicited by the trip and tourist psychological well-being.



Subjective well-being, Cognitive appraisal theory, Self-determination theory, Happiness, Tourism experience