A dualistic approach to leisure activity engagement : on the dynamics of passion, escapism, and life satisfaction
Appears in the following Collection
- Psykologisk institutt 
AbstractIn three papers, the present thesis examined the applicability of psychological theories on motivation in a leisure activity engagement context. It is argued that research on leisure motivation could benefit from a less contextual and a more idiosyncratic perspective on leisure activities.
The concept of activity affordances is presented in order to highlight the person-activity fit that takes place when a certain activity is approached. This concept suggests that activities with different attributes may offer the same psychological experiences as well as proposing that individuals may approach identical activities with different mindsets depending on their well-being, need satisfaction motives, personality characteristics, and so on. These motivational dynamics that evolve between the person and the activity is the primary objective of the present thesis.
In these three papers, the Dualistic Model of Passion is investigated in a leisure context. This model is dualistic in the sense that it proposes two distinctively different motivational constructs in relation to passionate engagement in activities. Specifically, the Passion model includes harmonious passion, a motivation which origins from an autonomous interest in an activity that leads to positive emotions and general well-being, and obsessive passion, which stems from a controlled internalization of the activity that undermines flexible engagement in the activity and constitutes a threat to well-being.
In addition, the present thesis includes the development of another dualistic model in relation to leisure activity engagement that pertains to motives to escape from the self through investing interest in an activity. Two dimensions of escapism were proposed: self-suppression and self-expansion. Self-suppression escapism derives from motivation to avoid negative evaluation of self by getting focused on an activity, whereas self-expansion is motivated from facilitations of positive experiences by getting immersed in an activity. The results supported the theoretical proposals, showing that these two dimensions have different determinants and outcomes. Self-suppression was related to ill-being and poor psychological adjustment, whereas self-expansion was related to flexible activity engagement and positive affective outcomes.
The findings from the studies in the present thesis give conditional support for a motivational dualism in leisure activity engagement. Harmonious passion and self-expansion were related to positive affective outcomes and subjective well-being, whereas obsessive passion and self-suppression were related to general and activity-related negative affect, poor psychological adjustment, and intrapersonal conflicts regarding the resources invested in the activity. The Passion model and the Escapism model complemented each other in terms of affective outcomes from activity engagement.
In sum, these findings show that leisure activity engagement can be conducive to well-being, but also, and in contrast to the traditional view upon leisure activity engagement, that leisure activities also may pose a threat to life satisfaction.
List of papers
1: Stenseng, F. (2008). The two faces of leisure activity engagement: Harmonious and obsessive passion in relation to intrapersonal conflict and life domain outcomes. Leisure Sciences, 30, 465-478.
2: Stenseng, F, Rise, J., & Kraft P. (2009). The dark side of leisure: Obsessive passion and its covariates and outcomes. Leisure Studies (In review).
3: Stenseng, F, Rise, J., & Kraft P. (2009). Two dimensions of escapism: Self-suppression and self-expansion. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (In review).