Background to leisure motivation

by Dr. Gary D. Holt (Fonte)

Leisure studies and leisure motivation

Shaw (1985) acknowledged that a fundamental problem with ‘leisure studies’ is the issue of conceptualising the term leisure itself. Shaw addressed this issue to some extent by interviewing 60 married couples with respect to their everyday activities and concluded that leisure is a meaningful concept that people use in defining and categorising aspects of their everyday life. Further, that in order to better understand the meaning of leisure in peoples’ lives, the attitudes and perceptions surrounding particular (i.e. specific) leisure situations need to be considered. This is what this series of articles sets about achieving in a UK Carp angling context, and the development of a conceptual motivation assessment framework is the first stage of that process.

It is difficult to define leisure definitively. As Mannell and Kleiber (1997) confirmed: "…one of the longest standing problems researchers have had is agreeing on how to define and measure it…" (ibid: p7). A ‘simple’ definition is: "Those activities that people do in their free time, because they want to, for their own sake, for fun, for entertainment, for goals of their own choosing, but not for payment" (Argyle, 1996). Most definitions include the dimensions of time and activity. That is, "Leisure is time free from work whist also embracing…a feeling of (comparative) freedom" (Parker, 1976). Kelly (1983) also emphasised this intrinsic characteristic of freedom being associated with leisure activity. Parker (1976) proffered three ways of defining leisure. The first considered the 24 hours in a day, and subtracts therefrom periods of time which are not leisure. The second disagrees with emphasis on time and concentrates on the quality of the leisure activity: "[leisure is] an attitude of mind, a condition of the soul…" (Pieper, 1952, cited in Parker 1976). The third definition contains a residual time element, accompanied by a normative statement about what leisure ought to be. Four perceptual dimensions are strongly associated with leisure, viz: freedom of choice; intrinsic motivation; enjoyment; and relaxation (Adams, 1979). These dimensions can be readily associated with Carp angling. For example, freedom to fish when and where one pleases, motivation to ‘catch’, enjoyment from catching and relaxation (for example in rural settings).

Leisure has also been described as an economic good, where demand is a function of consumers’ preferences, amount of disposable income, and the costs associated with a specific recreational experience (Adams, 1979). However, many commentators reinforce that full understanding of this interaction of supply (the leisure good) and demand (the leisure participant/s) is still somewhat vague. That is, the drivers of such demand, and resulting levels of satisfaction derived from it, are much less understood. (See Sofranko and Nolan, 1972; Knopf et al, 1973; Wellman, 1979; Ewart, 1985; Weissenger and Bandalos, 1995; Gawwiler and Havitz, 1998; Laverie, 1998). This may seem a paradox in view of the proliferation of leisure research findings in the literature – but as with many aspects of research (knowledge advancement) – the more that is understood about something, the more ‘qualified’ we become to question it.

Some have described leisure as a means to ‘managing’ or maintaining one’s psychological and physical well-being. For example, Smale and Dupuis (1995) found that starters and / or continuers [sic] of several leisure activities showed greater increases in psychological well being in comparison to stoppers and / or non-participants of the same. They concluded that changes in leisure participation might occur in order to preserve individuals’ psychological well-being (ibid: p 8). A weekend’s fishing can certainly ‘recharge-one’s-batteries’ – helping to provide – mental and physical rest required to face work thereafter!

In view that many individuals take part in leisure for social reasons and stimuli avoidance (cf. Beard and Ragheb, 1983); Iso-Ahola and Park (1996) tested the hypothesis that leisure mechanisms buffer every-day life stress. Physical health problems were found to correlate positively with life stress, but showed no association with leisure. Health problems, (particularly mental health) were associated with low levels of: intrinsic leisure motivation; perceived leisure freedom; and leisure friendship (ibid. p. 178). These findings underline that: "Leisure generated friendship and companionship interact with life stress in a manner consistent with their being buffers against the adverse effects of life stress on physical and mental health" (ibid. pp 182-183). However, Mannell and Kleiber (1997) reported a more pragmatic analysis, underlining that much more research is required before definitive conclusions can be drawn in this respect (ibid: chap. 10).

What motivates or constrains Leisure activity?

The question of leisure motivation is a central topic in the psychology of leisure. Psychologists want to know: What are the motives? and What are the rewards? (Argyle, 1996). Mannell and Kleiber (1997) presented a ‘general model of motivation’ the basic components of which are: 1) needs or motives, 2) behaviour or activity, 3) goals or satisfactions, and 4) feedback. Here, a simple analogy with Carp angling is possible: 1) the need for example to catch a personal best (PB); 2) the activity of fishing for that PB; 3) the achievement of a PB; and 4) feedback which may (for example) take the form of increasing one's target PB (e.g. from 25+ to 30lb). The latter then becomes a need and the process continues ad-infinitum.

Research has investigated the different meanings that leisure can hold for people. It was established that different age, sex, and social class groups can derive similar values from their leisure time, even though its content is different (Parker, 1976). Motivations for leisure have also been researched from numerous standpoints (e.g. why participate? why do you enjoy leisure?) (Crandall, 1980). Albeit generic in nature (vis-Ó-vis angling-specific), the results of such research can generally be classified in need-related terms (Table 1).

Table 1 Leisure: motivational categories and items

Category

Items

Category (cont.)

Items (cont.)

1. Enjoying nature, escaping civilisation

To get away from civilisation for a while, to be close to nature

10. Recognition, status

To show others I could do it, so others would think better of me

2. Escapee from routine and responsibility

Change from my daily routine, to escape the responsibilities of everyday life

11. Social power

To have control over others, to be in a position of authority

3. Physical exercise

For the exercise, to help keep me in shape

12. Altruism

To help others

4. Creativity

To be creative

13 . Stimulus seeking

For the excitement, because of the risks involved

5. Relaxation

To relax physically, so my mind can slow down

14. Self actualisation

Seeing the results of your efforts, using a variety of skills

6. Social contact

So I can do things with my companions, to get away from people

15. Achievement, challenge

To develop skills and ability, because of the competition, to learn what I am capable of

7. Meeting new people

To talk to new and varied people, to build friendships with new people

16. Killing time. Avoiding boredom

To keep busy, to avoid boredom

8. Heterosexual contact

To be with people of the opposite sex, to meet people of the opposite sex

17. Intellectual aestheticism

To use my mind, to think about my personal values

9. Family contact

To be away from the family for a while, to help bring the family together    


As Crandall (1980) pointed out, one approach to determining leisure motivators is to measure these needs or satisfactions directly. That is, to ask: "What needs are satisfied from involvement in this leisure pursuit?" and, "To what extent are they satisfied?" Table 1 shows that many of these needs can be easily associated with angling (e.g. enjoying nature, escaping civilisation, to relax). Kabanoff (1982) also produced a ‘list’ of ‘leisure needs’ (Table 2). Kelly (1983: p 4) produced a ‘compilation’ of leisure motivations. The top ranking ten of which were: 1) enjoying nature, escaping civilisation; 2) escape from routine and responsibility; 3) exercise; 4). creativity; 5) relaxation; 6) social contact; 7) meeting new people; 8) heterosexual contact; 9) family interaction; and 10) recognition, status. These motivations are consistent throughout the literature.

Franken and Raaij (1981) researched relationships between social class and leisure satisfaction. Satisfaction was defined as the discrepancy between expectation and the actual situation (Olander, 1977). Social factors not only determine leisure participation levels but may also penetrate an individual’s total psychological functioning (ibid.). Franken and Raaij (ibid.) also concluded that leisure satisfaction is higher for individuals who are older, and have an optimistic outlook. Lower levels of leisure satisfaction were associated with younger persons, having a pessimistic outlook.

Table 2 Kabanoff’s list of leisure needs

Leisure needs  Items associated with need;
1. Autonomy Organise own projects and activities. Do things you find personally meaningful
2. Relaxation

Relax and take it easy. Give mind and body a rest

3. Family activity Bring family closer together. Enjoy family life
4. Escape routine Get away from the responsibilities of everyday life
5. Interaction Make new friends. Enjoy people’s company
6. Stimulation To have new and different experiences. For excitement and stimulation

7. Skill utilisation

Use skills and abilities. Develop new skills and abilities.
8. Health  Keep physically fit. For health reasons
9. Esteem Gain respect or admiration of others. Show others what you are capable of
10. Challenge / competition Be involved in a competition. Test yourself in difficult or demanding situations
11. Leadership / social power Organise activities of groups, teams or organisations. To gain positions of leadership

After Argyle (1996: p 155)

In helping to understand what leisure is, its sociological role, and who participates in what leisure and why; interdisciplinary research and resulting models were discussed by Kelly (1983: Ch. 2). Kelly refers to Gunter and Gunter (1980) who proposed one such (sociological-psychological) model based upon the psychological involvement of an individual in activities or life style, and, the structuring of time and events. Four modes of leisure were distinguished – see Figure 1.

London et al (1977) cited in Beard and Ragheb, (1983 p. 220) identified three latent leisure motivation dimensions: feedback; liking; and interpersonal involvement. Tinsley and Kass (1979, op cit.) highlighted ten leisure motivation factors: self actualisation; companionship; power; compensation; security; social service; intellectual aestheticism; exercise; self esteem; and self control. Seven ‘general’ leisure motivators were highlighted in the work of Iso-Ahola and Allen (1982), these being: interpersonal diversion and control; personal competence; escape from daily routine; positive interpersonal involvement; diversionary relaxation; interpersonal competence; and a seventh unnamed factor having to do with meeting and being with the opposite sex. Beard and Ragheb (1983) investigated some 103 leisure motivators, being grouped under four generic factors: intellectual; social; competence mastery; and stimulus avoidance classifications. A subsequent factor analysis (cf. Kinnear and Gray 1995: Ch. 15) revealed that an equal number of motivators (eight) could be attributed to each of these four generic descriptors (Table 3).

Figure 1 Gunter's model of leisure involvement and choice

 

 

Table 3 Factor loading of leisure motivators

  Motivators     Intellectual Social Competence Stimulus Avoidance

1

To learn

0.66

0.13

0.00

0.14

2

Satisfy curiosity

0.62

0.12

0.00

0.16

3

Explore new ideas

0.72

0.11

0.06

0.07

4

Learn about myself

0.59

0.26

0.14

0.16

5

Expand my knowledge

0.70

0.08

0.11

0.05

6

Discover new things

0.70

0.11

0.10

0.08

7

Be creative

0.62

0.12

0.17

0.09

8

Use my imagination

0.62

0.14

0.08

0.13

1

Build friendships

0.08

0.76

0.14

0.02

2

Interact with others

0.10

0.73

0.18

0.01

3

Develop close friendships

0.12

0.75

0.10

0.02

4

Meet new people

0.16

0.69

0.16

(0.00)

5

Gain others’ respect

0.16

0.61

0.18

0.08

6

Reveal thoughts to others

0.19

0.57

0.16

0.04

7

Social competence

0.16

0.61

0.27

0.06

8

Feeling of belonging

0.15

0.70

0.13

0.14

1

Challenge my abilities

0.35

0.08

0.62

0.03

2

-to be good at them

0.29

0.12

0.60

0.01

3

Improve my ability

0.29

0.11

0.66

(0.02)

4

Be active

0.06

0.16

0.64

(0.02)

5

Develop physical skills

0.07

0.20

0.74

(0.01)

6

Keep in shape

(0.13)

0.22

0.70

0.07

7

Use physical abilities

(0.02)

0.21

0.77

0.05

8

Develop physical fitness

(0.07)

0.21

0.68

0.07

1

To slow down

0.14

0.00

(0.11)

0.66

2

Be alone

0.21

(0.07)

(0.02)

0.63

3

To relax physically

0.09

(0.00)

0.06

0.64

4

To relax mentally

0.06

(0.04)

0.12

0.64

5

Avoid hustle and bustle

0.10

0.00

0.10

0.70

6

To rest

0.11

0.12

(0.08)

0.71

7

Relieve stress / tension

0.05

0.03

0.20

0.58

8

Unstructure my time

0.08

0.17

0.01

0.62

After Beard and Ragheb, (1983)

Six generic leisure motivators (and respective factors) were confirmed by Lounsbury and Hoopes (1988). These generic motivators in descending order of influence were: Supervising others; Achievement; Physical activity; Social interaction; Mental activity; and Creativity. They also found that leisure motivators remained relatively stable over a five-year period investigated. That is, motivators were much the same ‘now’ amongst a sample, as they were five years ago.

Conclusion

Clearly from the above discussion, the question of why people undertake leisure is a particularly interesting question, because unlike work, leisure is a ‘voluntary’ activity. Two particular researches of relevance to the present study are those conducted by Crandall (1980) and Beard and Ragheb (1983). This is because of their robustness in terms of sample sizes surveyed, and the usefulness of their generic motivational descriptors derived. The specific conclusions of these researches (along with others) are observed in more detail later in this series of articles, under discussion of angling factors (AFs) and factor groupings (FGs). That is, we shall determine specific factors (AFs) that motivate Carp anglers and group these into FGs.


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