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    Understanding Consumer Enchantment via Paranormal Tourism: Part I—Conceptual Review

    Drinkwater, K ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4015-0578, Massullo, B, Dagnall, N ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0657-7604, Laythe, B, Boone, J and Houran, J (2022) Understanding Consumer Enchantment via Paranormal Tourism: Part I—Conceptual Review. Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, 63 (2). pp. 195-215. ISSN 1938-9655

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    © The Author(s) 2020. Tourism-hospitality businesses sometimes market consumer experiences in terms of “enchantment,” although this phrase is often used vaguely or variously. Therefore, we approached the issue conceptually by examining prior research on the experience economy, extraordinary architectural experiences, and accounts of paranormal tourism. Our critical overview suggests that we are dealing with a phenomenon rooted in environment-person bidirectional (or enactive) effects. We subsequently argue for the term “situational-enchantment” to denote a distinct and progressive arousal state characterized by dis-ease or dissonance that facilitates a sense of connection or oneness with a “transcendent agency, ultimate reality, or Other.” An iterative Content Category Dictionary exercise based on target literature specifically mapped this hypothesized state in terms of five competing features: (a) Emotional, (b) Sensorial, (c) Timeless, (d) Rational, and (e) Transformative. We frame this phenomenology within Funder’s Realistic Accuracy Model, which we propose drives an epiphanic process involving attentional, perceptual, attributional, and social mechanisms. Our synthesis of the multidisciplinary literature in this domain helps to clarify the nature and relevance of enchantment as an individual difference that varies across people and is subject to a variety of contextual influences. Accordingly, we discuss how this hypothesized state can be manipulated to an extent within certain people by creating or reinforcing conditions that spur experiential and rational engagement with ambiguous or unexpected stimuli.

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