While diva-like behavior in hotel guests can be challenging for service providers, understanding the psychological underpinnings of such behavior can offer valuable insights.

Have you ever found yourself indulging in diva-like behavior at a hotel or restaurant, or witnessed someone else doing so? Understanding the psychological underpinnings behind such behavior in these settings can enlighten both guests and service providers alike. For service providers, this insight is invaluable in navigating guests' needs more effectively. And for those who occasionally slip into the diva role—admit it, we've all been there at some point—it might reveal why such behavior isn't necessary after all.

The phenomenon of guests displaying demanding or "diva-like" behavior when staying at hotels can be better understood through the lens of psychology. Several psychological principles and theories can shed light on why some individuals might adopt such attitudes and behaviors in a hospitality setting.

The Role of Anonymity

One key factor is the sense of anonymity and detachment from one's regular social environment that a hotel stay can provide. According to the Deindividuation Theory, as outlined by Zimbardo (1969), people may feel less accountable for their actions when they believe they are not personally identifiable, leading to behavior that they would typically consider unacceptable in their everyday lives. In the context of a hotel, guests might feel detached from their usual social norms and responsibilities, leading them to act more indulgently or demandingly than they otherwise would.

Power Dynamics

The power dynamics inherent in the guest-service provider relationship can also contribute to diva-like behavior. Social psychologist Dacher Keltner's exploration in "The Power Paradox" (2016) suggests that the feeling of power can lead individuals to act more impulsively, less empathetically, and more aggressively. In a hotel setting, guests often hold a significant amount of power, as they are paying for a service and may perceive themselves as entitled to a certain level of treatment. This perceived power can, unfortunately, manifest in demanding or unreasonable behavior.

Expectation and Disappointment

Expectation plays a crucial role in shaping guests' behavior. Vroom's Expectancy Theory (1964) posits that individuals act in certain ways based on their expectations of the outcome and the value they place on that outcome. In the realm of hotels, guests often have high expectations for their stay, influenced by marketing materials, social media, and previous experiences. When these expectations are not met, guests may react negatively, and their behavior can become more challenging as a means of expressing dissatisfaction or attempting to rectify the situation.

The Role of Stress

Stress and the need for control in unfamiliar environments can also contribute to diva-like behavior. According to Lazarus and Folkman's "Transactional Model of Stress and Coping" (1984), individuals assess potential stressors in their environment and respond in ways they believe will manage or mitigate the stress. For some hotel guests, particularly those traveling for business or under time constraints, the need to assert control and ensure a smooth, comfortable stay can lead them to adopt a more demanding demeanor.

Social Comparison and Conspicuous Consumption

Finally, Festinger's Social Comparison Theory (1954) suggests that individuals determine their own social and personal worth based on how they stack up against others. In a luxury hotel setting, guests might engage in conspicuous consumption, as described by Veblen in "The Theory of the Leisure Class" (1899), and demanding behavior as a way to assert their status or to compete with perceived norms or the behavior of other guests. This can be particularly pronounced in environments that emphasize exclusivity and luxury.

While diva-like behavior in hotel guests can be challenging for service providers, understanding the psychological underpinnings of such behavior can offer valuable insights. By considering factors such as anonymity, power dynamics, expectations, stress, and social comparison, hoteliers can develop more effective strategies for managing guest relations and ensuring a positive experience for all parties involved.

Photo Credit:  Fabio Lovino/HBO