A study of Southern Appalachian backcountry hikers tested the hypothesis that recreationists with high experience levels would have greater differentiation of site attribute values when making recreation choices than would individuals with low experience. Contrary to cognitive development theory, a simulated laboratory choice study found that more experienced subjects employed fewer and broader attribute value categories than did their less experienced counterparts. This surprising finding might be explained by the nature of the judgment task. Cognitive development theory suggests that greater experience leads to greater perceptual distinction along a range of attribute values, but social judgment theory suggests fewer attitudinal or preference distinctions along the range of attribute values with increased involvement with the issue or object. Leisure planners, managers, and programmers must decide what type of judgment they are asking recreationists to make when they attempt to influence choice through provision of information.