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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Journalism and Mass Communications

First Advisor

Richard W. Lee


Photographs are essential visual elements for selling the state. According to Moriarty (1986), "photography has reality, people tend to believe their eyes when shown a photograph" (p.162). This study seeks to determine whether or not the use of people in a photograph influences a resident's response to a photograph of South Dakota. An important aspect of how residents gain enough interest in a specific place in South Dakota to visit may be determined by what they see in photographs. Many times photographs offer residents their initial visual contact with places they've never visited. Depending on the degree of interest or disinterest residents find in the photograph, this visual stimulus often provides them with the information on which to base their travel decisions. This study examines what photographic elements are most effective in convincing South Dakota residents to travel to attractions in their home state. To investigate residents photo preferences Q-methodology was used. Q-methodology, as developed by William Stephenson, is appropriate for subjective measurement. Stephenson (1953) writes, "...objective measurements and observations can, in principle, be made by everyone, whereas measurements and observations of a person's subjectivity can be made only by himself." The Q-technique makes it possible for subjects to sort statements or test items in a manner in which the subject is measuring her /his own subjectivity. Specifically, this study investigates residents' interest in photographs with people and without people. The photographs used in the study are representative of South Dakota travel destinations. One destination photograph featured an active participation situation where people are interacting with their surroundings at the place they are visiting and the other photograph for the same travel destination featured a scenic photograph with no people in the photograph. Additional insight on the visual effectiveness of photographs would provide the South Dakota Department of Tourism with the potential for greater target communication. This study investigated beyond the question of whether or not the use of people in a photograph influences a resident's response to a photograph of South Dakota. Demographic variables such as area of residence in South Dakota, education, income, children in the household, travel habits, exposure to promotional tourism advertising, and length of residence were examined to determine what degree of influence, if any, they had on a resident's preference for and ranking of photographs of South Dakota. These questions for research are asked from the standpoint that South Dakota tourism is dependent upon residents as much as, or more than, those persons visiting from out of state. As stated by Susan Edwards (1990), Secretary of Tourism, residents have a great impact on Tourism. By choosing to travel in South Dakota, residents stop the leakage of tourism dollars to other states and provide economic growth for South Dakota. There exists a dual target market for tourism in South Dakota. The South Dakota Department of Tourism uses various strategies to motivate travelers from outside South Dakota to visit the state based on research studies such as those conducted by Grant & Associates in 1987 and Dr. Michael K. Madden in 1991. It also attempts to get South Dakota residents to avel via such promotions as the Centennial Passport Game and print advertising. Thus, South Dakota residents are exposed routinely to visual images intended to increase awareness and attract travelers to the state.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Psychology -- Methodology
Advertising -- Tourism -- South Dakota
Tourism -- South Dakota
South Dakota -- Photographs




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