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Cathedral visitors likely to be shy, research finds

 

16 December 2010

Visitors to cathedrals in Chester and St Davids, Pembrokeshire, are more likely to be quiet and shy than outgoing extroverts, according to a new study.

A team of researchers at Glyndŵr University collected data from 157 visitors to Chester Cathedral and 381 visitors to St Davids Cathedral in order to determine their personality traits.

They were asked questions about their personality profiles and how these profiles related to their visitor experiences. Questions used to determine personality profiles focused on how active, private or sociable the visitors were and to what extent they were energised by other people.

Analysis of the results using psychological testing revealed that, accounting for just 42% of visitors to both cathedrals, extroverts were significantly under-represented.

The researchers say the results of the survey will help tourism bosses at both cathedrals to manage their visitor experiences and look at ways in which they can increase their appeal to extroverts, who are currently visiting in low numbers.

Dr Emyr Williams (pictured), lecturer in psychology at Glyndŵr University, was part of a team of four researchers who worked on the project alongside Glyndŵr University PhD student Simon Mansfield; Leslie Francis, Visiting Professor at Glyndŵr University and Executive Director of the St Mary’s Centre, a religious education centre in Gwynedd; and Andrew Village, head of the MA Theology and Religious studies programme at York St John University.

Dr Williams said: “The survey provides a unique insight into the personality profiles of visitors to Chester and St David’s cathedrals. The psychological profiles of visitors to both cathedrals were highly similar and they were clearly more attractive as a tourist destination for introverts – people who are energised by their inner ideas and enjoy solitude and silence.

“It does raise some interesting issues of course, for example, how do these cathedrals go about attracting more extroverts without alienating introverts? How can the cathedral administration ensure that their doors really are open for all?”

The team worked alongside stewards and chaplains at both cathedrals, collecting data from visitors who had paid entry fees.

Visitors were categorised against introversion and extroversion and attitudes of judging and perceiving the social world.

The segmentation of the visitors’ personality traits was based on the psychological framework of Carl Jung, whose test has since been used successfully to provide information on visitor segmentation in the tourism industry.

Dr Williams added: “While the case study raised many interesting points about the visitors to St Davids Cathedral and Chester Cathedral it’s far too early to say whether the results can be replicated across the different cathedrals of England and Wales. More research is now needed to expand this innovative research area.”

The results of the research are published in the October issue of the Journal of Visitor Studies.

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