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Happiness Through Leisure



In this chapter, we start with a description of happiness, the nature of happiness, the value of happiness, and the determinants of happiness. In that context, we discuss what leisure can contribute to happiness. Although happiness is partially set through inherited personality traits, there is potential for improving one's sense of happiness through leisure. Research to date focused mainly on casual leisure and leisure travel. These kinds of leisure have mostly a small positive effect on happiness. The benefits are often temporary and in the moment. We propose more longitudinal research that addresses serious leisure and project-based leisure, which may have more sustained effects on happiness than casual leisure and leisure travel. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. All rights are reserved.
Jeroen Nawijn
and Ruut Veenhoven
In: T. Freire (ed.), Positive Leisure Science: From Subjective Experience to Social
Contexts, DOI 10.1007/978-94-007-5058-6_l 1, Springer Science+Business Media
Dordrecht 2013, chapter 11, p 193-209
Happiness is important to individuals. If one were to make a judgment based on the vast
amount of self-help books available in any bookstore, the conclusion would have to be that
happiness is a very important aspect of people’s lives. Whether such books actually provide
any solutions to increase happiness is doubtful (Bergsma, 2008). Nevertheless, many are
clearly interested in happiness.
Contemplations about happiness began hundreds of years ago. Particularly, the
ancient Greeks were interested in happiness, among which Aristotle. Aristotle thought of
happiness as “living according to reason.” In his view, leading a happy life meant leading a
virtuous life (McMahon, 2006).
Since the 1960s, happiness has become a subject of empirical research in the social
sciences. The concept of happiness in these empirical studies is different from Aristotle’s
view. Rather than leading a morally good life, happiness is regarded as leading a satisfying
life. In this chapter, we focus on that latter meaning of the word.
Happiness trainings have also developed since the 1960s. Recently, interventionists
and researchers joined forces in the positive psychology movement, which aims to
strengthen individuals’ life skills, enabling them to lead happier lives. This is mainly done
through positive interventions, some of which are more successful than others (cf.,
Seligman, Steen, Park, & Peterson, 2005). Another strand in this movement focuses not so
much on training and soul searching, but gathers objective information on determinants of
happiness, with the purpose of enabling people to make better informed choices, that is,
minimize discrepances between expected and experienced utility (Kahneman, Wakker,
1 Dr. J. Nawijn, Academy for Tourism, NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands e-mail:
2 Prof. Dr. Ruut Veenhoven Erasmus University Rotterdam, Faculty of Social Sciences,
P.O.B. 1738 3000 DR Rotterdam, Netherlands and North-West University in South Africa
Printed version: www.SpringerLink.
& Sarin, 1997). This chapter fits the latter strand. Striving for happiness is not futile; apart
from feeling good, being happy has several other advantages as well. One benefit is that
happiness lengthens life (Danner, Snowdon, & Friesen, 2001), because happiness protects
against becoming ill (Veenhoven, 2008). Longitudinal studies also found that happiness
fosters intimate relationships and adds to productivity at work in various ways (Lyubomirsky
& King, 2005).
In this chapter, we discuss the relation between happiness and leisure. First, the
concepts of leisure and happiness are defined. Next, we explain how leisure can affect
happiness and whether it has a positive influence on happiness. We end this chapter with an
agenda for future research.
1.1 Leisure
We identify leisure as free time which is defined as “time away from unpleasant obligation”
(Stebbins, 2001, p. 4). Stebbins distinguishes three types of leisure: serious leisure, casual
leisure, and project-based leisure. Serious leisure constitutes three kinds: career
volunteering, hobbyist activities, or amateur pursuits. Casual leisure is less substantial and
offers no “leisure career.” Project-based leisure is free time dedicated to a leisure project.
This type of leisure is short in nature, unlike a hobby. The research presented in this chapter
addresses mostly the domain of casual leisure, which is “immediately, intrinsically
rewarding, relatively short-lived pleasurable activity requiring little or no special training to
enjoy it” (Stebbins, p. 53).
In this chapter, we also address the role of tourism (i.e., leisure travel). Tourism and
leisure are not separate fields of study. Like leisure, tourism is also considered as a time free
from (unpleasant) obligations. The significant difference however is that tourism takes place
outside one’s normal environment; it includes at least one overnight stay elsewhere (UN
WTO, 1995). Leisure and tourism can be conceptualized in such a way that a synthesized
behavioral understanding of the two disciplines can be conceived (Moore, Cushman, &
Simmons, 1995). In fact, tourism may be regarded as a specific form of leisure as the
distinction between tourism and everyday life (i.e., leisure and work) is not as apparent as it
perhaps once was; tourism has very much become an integral part of life (Larsen, 2008;
McCabe, 2002). For instance, experiences that were once confined solely to tourism are now
accessible in everyday life (Lash & Urry, 1994). Tourism is also becoming increasingly
more important; the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) reports an average long-term
growth rate of 4% in international tourist arrivals and predicts 1.6 billion international
arrivals by the year 2020 (UNWTO, 2008). These numbers exclude domestic trips, which
outnumber international trips by more than a factor of five (Peeters & Dubois, 2010).
1.2 Happiness
People use a variety of words to describe how well they are doing or feeling. Commonly
used terms are “well-being,” “quality of life,” or “happiness.” All of these have different -
but sometimes partly overlapping - meanings. Veenhoven (2000) proposed a classification
based on two bipartitions; life “chances” and life “results” versus “outer” and “inner”
qualities (see Scheme 11.1).
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Meanings of the Word
The upper half of Scheme 11.1 presents two variants of potential quality of life. The outer
qualities address the opportunities in one’s environment, whereas the inner qualities refer to
the ability to exploit these. Veenhoven denotes the environmental chances by the term
“livability” and the personal capacities by “life-ability.” Livability of the environment
represents good living conditions. Quality of life, well-being, and welfare are commonly
used terms for this top-left part of the quadrant. According to Veenhoven (2000, p. 6),
‘livability’ is a better word, because it refers explicitly to a characteristic of the environment
and does not have the limited connotation of material conditions.” Life-ability of the person
denotes how well individuals are equipped to cope with their life. Besides being referred to
as wellbeing or quality of life, this top-right quadrant of Scheme 11.1 is also denoted as
adaptive potential, health, efficacy, or potency. Life-ability is the main focus of positive
psychological interventions.
The lower half of Scheme 11.1 addresses the quality of life with respect to its
outcomes. Veenhoven named the external worth of life as “utility of life,” whereas the inner
valuation is termed “appreciation of life.” Utility of life presumes higher values; it
“represents the notion that a good life must be good for something more than itself’
(Veenhoven, 2000, p. 7). Appreciation of life is about the inner outcomes of life, by which is
meant the subjective appreciation of life. This has also been referred to as subjective well-
being, life satisfaction, and happiness.
The main focus of current happiness research, and therefore this chapter, is on life
satisfaction, which is defined as “the overall appreciation of one’s life as-a- whole”
(Veenhoven, 1984). Four kinds of satisfaction can be distinguished (see Scheme 11.2).
Kinds of Satisfaction
The word “satisfaction” is used with differing meanings. The fourfold taxonomy presented
in Scheme 11.2 helps us understand these differences. A passing satisfaction addressing a
part of life is what we call a pleasure, for instance, the enjoyment derived from reading a
good book or drinking a cold glass of beer. An enduring kind of satisfaction related to a part
of one’s life is referred to as a part satisfaction, which can be satisfaction with a “domain”
of life, such as leisure, or an “aspect” of life, such as the variety. A passing kind of
satisfaction relating to one’s life as-a- whole is a poetic or religious type of extasis, an
intense experience, which is called peak experience. Finally, life satisfaction (or happiness)
is an enduring kind of satisfaction with life as-a-whole (Veenhoven, 2010a). The kinds of
satisfaction addressed in this chapter are enduring kinds of satisfaction: part satisfaction (i.e.,
leisure satisfaction) and life satisfaction.
Components of Happiness
When estimating their satisfaction with life as-a-whole, people draw on two sources of
information: how well they feel most of the time and to what extent their life meets their
wants. Veenhoven (2009) refers to these appraisals as, respectively, the “affective” and
“cognitive” components of happiness and considers these as subtotals in the inclusive
evaluation of life, which he calls “overall happiness.” These appraisals do not necessarily
coincide. For instance, one can feel good most on the time but still judge that life falls short
of one’s aspirations.
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Feelings, in terms of emotions, affect, and mood, belong to the affective component of
happiness, called hedonic level of affect. Contentment is the term used to describe the
cognitive component of happiness. Contentment designates “the degree to which an
individual perceives that his aspirations are being met” (Veenhoven, 1984, p. 27).
In this chapter, we will address both overall happiness and the affective component
(i.e., hedonic level of affect). We will not deal with the cognitive component of happiness
because its relation with leisure has not been assessed empirically as of yet.
Measures of Happiness
Over the years, various methods of assessing happiness have been applied. According to
Layard (2005), the most “objective” method of measuring happiness is by means of a brain
scan. For rather obvious reasons, this is not a very useful method. Since happiness is
something we have in mind, it can also be measured using self- reports.
Self-report questionnaires or diary studies are often used in empirical studies on
happiness. An example of the latter is the experience sampling method (Csikszentmihalyi &
Larson, 1987), which is a method where participants are “beeped” on a PDA or cell phone
and are asked to record where they are, what they are doing, and how they feel at multiple
moments throughout a day, an ideal method to assess optimal experiences. An alternative
form of a diary study is the day reconstruction method (DRM; Kahneman, Krueger,
Schkade, Schwarz, & Stone, 2004), in which respondents assess the previous day in its
entirety. The most commonly used, however, are self-report questionnaires which may use
single-item questions (Abdel-Khalek, 2006) or a variety of scales to assess happiness, such
as the Positive And Negative Affect Scale (PANAS; Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988), the
Subjective Happiness Scale (SHS; Lyubomirsky & Lepper, 1999), or the Satisfaction With
Life Scale (SWLS; Pavot & Diener, 1993).
The PANAS and DRM measure the affective component of life satisfaction, whereas the
SHS and SWLS are overall measures of happiness. The responses to self-report questions on
happiness are generally prompt, nonresponse is low, and temporal stability is high
(Veenhoven, 1984, 1991b).
Some theories argue that happiness cannot be changed. For instance, homeostatic set point
theory or trait theory argues that happiness is a rather stable “trait” and that whatever we do,
we cannot change our happiness. In this view, particular experiences can at best provide a
temporary uplift, after which we return to our set point (Cummins, 2005), and in that view,
leisure will not make us any happier.
How about the reality value of this theory? One implication is that happiness remains
about the same over the span of one’s life. This theory is partly based on Lykken and
Tellegen’s (1996) findings on heredity of personality traits, which are indeed quite stable,
particularly after the age of 30 (Costa & McCrae, 1994). Yet happiness appears to be a
“state” rather than a “trait.” A research synthesis by Veenhoven (1994) showed that
happiness is stable in the short run, but not over the lifetime. Furthermore, happiness is not
insensitive to fortune or adversity, and the genetic base of happiness is modest at best. More
recently, Headey (2008, 2010) showed that set point theory overstates the stability of
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happiness; some groups ofpeople at least experience substantial permanent upward or
downward changes in life satisfaction.
1.1 Comparison theory
is a cognitive theory of happiness and holds that we base our happiness on the estimation of
the gap between the realities of our lives and common standards of the good. Standards of
comparison are deemed variable rather than fixed, and subjective evaluation of life is
considered unrelated to the “objective” quality of life (Veenhoven & Ehrhardt, 1995).
Comparison theory disregards the affective component (Veenhoven, 1991a; Veenhoven &
Ehrhardt, 1995). Crossnational research has failed to find evidence supporting the
assumptions of comparison theory (Veenhoven & Ehrhardt), whereas research between
groups of individuals (happy versus unhappy) has found evidence that supports comparison
theory (Lyubomirsky & Ross, 1997). Comparison theory allows for an effect of leisure on
happiness. Leisure participation, the way one spends their leisure time, and the time which is
available for leisure could be part of comparison between individuals or groups of
individuals within a particular society.
Other cognitive happiness theories, such as goal theory, also imply that leisure can
influence happiness. Consumer behavior is predominantly goal-directed. A goal focuses on a
specific outcome, but is not limited to such an outcome. Goals also encompass experiences
and sequences of events (Bagozzi & Dholakia, 1999). Several studies in the field of
happiness have shown that the pursuit of personal goals and progress on (important) goals
are strong predictors of happiness (Brunstein, 1993; Emmons, 1986, 1992; Omodei &
Wearing, 1990; Palys & Little, 1983). However, people may adopt certain goals which are
not congruent with their needs (Diener, 2000), striving for such goals will not increase
happiness. Similarly, Kasser and Ryan (1993) found that happiness does not increase when
people make progress on certain goals, such as “making money.” Their interpretation is that
certain goals meet intrinsic needs and those affect happiness, whereas others meet extrinsic
needs and do not affect happiness. Additionally, McGregor and Little (1998) found that
perceived efficacy is related to happiness. Low expectations of success are associated with
negative affect (Emmons, 1986). Thus, in the case of leisure, striving for leisure goals which
are congruent to an individual’s needs and wants should increase happiness. Like other
cognitive happiness theories, goal theory ignores the affective component of happiness.
1.2 Livability theory
or need theory is an affective theory of happiness which posits that the subjective
appreciation of life is based on the “objective” quality of life. Livability theory focuses on
absolute quality of living conditions, whereas comparison theory focuses on the relative
difference. Thus, according to livability theory, people are happier in good living conditions
compared to bad living conditions, even if they know that others are better off (Veenhoven
& Ehrhardt, 1995). This theory presumes that there are basic human needs and that
happiness increases when these needs are met (Diener & Lucas, 2000). In this view,
happiness mirrors the degree to which innate needs are met (Veenhoven, 2009). Cross-
national research supports the assumptions of livability theory (Veenhoven & Ehrhardt),
particularly the relation between economic growth and its influence on years lived happily
(Veenhoven & Hagerty, 2006). In this view, leisure can contribute to happiness if it
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is instrumental in meeting human needs. If so, people will be happier in societies that have
cultivated leisure compared to societies that have not.
Diener and Lucas (2000) concluded that most of the aforementioned theories are not
mutually exclusive and proposed an inclusive evaluation theory, which involves evaluating
incoming information that is relevant to well-being. They argue that desires, goals, and
needs are chronically salient standards and consequently have ongoing effects on happiness.
Past comparison and social comparison are only relevant in evaluating one’s happiness in
specific circumstances.
Thus, from a theoretical perspective, there are several ways in which leisure may
contribute to happiness of individuals. Comparing one’s leisure time and activities to others
who are better or off, or worse off, could affect happiness. Another possibility is to strive for
goals, congruent with one’s needs. Pursuit and progress on these personal goals would
positively affect happiness. Finally, when basic human needs are met to a great extent, this
may allow for more leisure time and opportunities to spend this time according to one’s
needs, which would be beneficial to individuals’ happiness.
According to Lyubomirsky, Sheldon, & Schkade (2005), approximately 50% of an
individual’s happiness is predetermined through heredity, 10% is determined by
circumstances, and 40% is affected by intentional activity. The domain of leisure falls within
the 40% of the happiness spectrum which is affected by intentional activity. The 50% set
point probably reflects, to a large degree, personality traits (McCrae & John, 1992), which
are highly heritable (Tellegen et al., 1988), although there is reason to believe that this
genetic set point is likely to be lower than 50% (Headey, 2008, 2010).
The five-factor model of personality (FFM or Big 5) is a “hierarchical organization
of personality traits in terms of five basic dimensions: extraversion, agreeableness,
conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness to experience” (McCrae & John, 1992, p.
175). Even though the model is widely accepted, there remain disputes over the amount of
factors (too few or too many) and the best interpretation of the factors (Becker, 1999). Quite
possibly, there are other dimensions of personality not covered in the FFM.
The five traits are heritable (25-45%; Larsen & Buss, 2002). The highest degree of
heritability is associated with extraversion and neuroticism (McCrae & John, 1992).
Personality influences relationships, goal striving, and life events. Costa and McCrae (1994)
found that personality traits are relatively stable after the age of 30, which has been
confirmed by others (Soldz & Vaillant, 1999). The role of extraversion in regard to
happiness has been researched extensively (Argyle & Lu, 1990b; Diener, Larsen, &
Emmons, 1984; Diener, Sandvik, Pavot, & Fujita, 1992; Moskowitz & Cote, 1995; Pavot,
Diener, & Fujita, 1990). The presence of positive affect is predominantly related to
extraversion (Rusting & Larsen, 1997).
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These studies have concluded that extraverts are more sensitive to positive mood induction
than introverts (Larsen & Ketelaar, 1991; Rusting & Larsen, 1997). Extraversion is related to
positive affect through more indirect mechanisms (Argyle & Lu, 1990b; Pavot et al.), and
extraverts are happier than introverts (Diener et al., 1992; Pavot et al.). Extraverts are more likely
to be more involved with people and consequently have a greater circle of friends (Myers, 1993).
Personality traits not only influence happiness but also have an influence on how
individuals make use of their leisure time (Hills & Argyle, 1998; Kraaykamp & Van Eijck,
2005; Melamed, Meir, & Samson, 1995). Kraaykamp and Van Eijck found that openness to
experience has a positive effect on book reading and outdoor arts attendance. Openness to
experience stimulates interest in complex and exciting recreational activities. Furthermore,
they found that conscientiousness had a negative effect on participation in difficult or
unconventional activities. Extraverts feel generally much better in high-stimulation
situations. Although leisure situations are not necessarily more activating than work
situations, extraverts tend to use their leisure time for more activating activities; extraversion
is positively associated with leisure pursuits (Argyle & Lu, 1990a; Brandstatter, 1994; Hills
& Argyle, 1998; Lu & Hu, 2005). Additionally, individuals who score high on extraversion
have stronger social motives, which are more easily satisfied in leisure (Brandstatter, 1994).
People who score high on extraversion and neuroticism also watch more TV soap operas
(Hills & Argyle, 1998; Lu & Argyle, 1993).
As personality partially influences how leisure time is spent, it is important to find
leisure activities which are congruent with one’s personality (i.e., leisure congruence).
Leisure congruence is found to be positively associated with work satisfaction and
negatively with burnout and somatic complaints. Individuals who selected congruent leisure
activities had higher work satisfaction (31%), higher self-esteem (20%), less burnout (21%),
fewer somatic complaints (17%), and less anxiety (17%) compared to those who lacked
leisure congruence (Melamed et al., 1995).
In sum, personality has an influence on how individuals allocate their leisure time,
and personality also partly determines how happy individuals are. Even though personality
traits are highly heritable, there are still many opportunities for individuals to affect their
happiness by finding leisure activities which are congruent with their needs.
Although leisure has been a frequent subject of empirical research (Stebbins, 2001), the
relation between leisure and happiness has not received much attention to date. The
available research results have been gathered in the World Database of Happiness
(Veenhoven, 2010d). All the literature on this subject can be found in its Bibliography of
Happiness (Veenhoven, 2010b), subject section Happiness and Leisure (code Le). By the
end of 2010, there were 100 publications in this category.
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Findings yielded by studies that used acceptable measures of happiness are presented in the
collection of correlational findings. One of the reports in this collection, “Happiness and Leisure”
(code L3), contained 190 findings at the end of 2010 (Veenhoven, 2010c). We summarize
the main findings in the following sections.
4.1 Work and Leisure
Work, leisure, and happiness are interrelated (Haworth, 1997). Leisure is used by individuals
as an opportunity to cope with work stress (Trenberth, Dewe, & Walkey, 1999) and working
conditions influence leisure satisfaction (Near, 1984). The passive aspects of leisure are well
suited to cope with work stress (Trenberth et al.).
Loss of work is associated with lower life satisfaction as the unemployed are less
happy than the employed (Böhnke & Kohler, 2008; Winkelmann & Winkelmann, 1998).
Additionally, the unemployed are less happy about their home life (Fogarty, 1985), which is
considered a part satisfaction (see Scheme 11.2). The effect of unemployment is three times
stronger than that of bad health, and younger people are more strongly affected by
unemployment (Winkelmann & Winkelmann).
Not only paid work is associated with happiness, volunteer work is associated with
happiness as well (Boelhouwer & Stoop, 1999; Böhnke & Kohler, 2008; Thoits & Hewitt,
2001). Happy individuals are more active in volunteering and additionally, volunteering
adds to their happiness. Thus, there is evidence that there exists a positive cycle of selection
and social causation processes (Thoits & Hewitt). Whether self-selection or social selection
is the predominant factor in choosing to engage in volunteer work is unclear. Thoits and
Hewitt argue that in some circumstances, it is likely that both these processes occur. All the
findings on work and leisure, except where indicated, are based on measures of overall life
satisfaction (bottom-right quadrant of Scheme 11.2).
4.2 Leisure Activities
Leisure activities can be either passive or active. For instance, watching a sports game on
TV would be considered passive participation, whereas participating in a sports game would
be considered active participation. Leisure activities produce positive moods, and much of
this derived pleasure stems from the social relationships that they foster (Hills & Argyle,
1998). Participation in social activities is associated positively with happiness (Ragheb,
1993), and frequency of participation in leisure activities is also associated with happiness
(Baldwin & Tinsley, 1988; Dowall, Bolter, Flett, & Kammann, 1988; Lloyd & Auld, 2002;
Wankel & Berger, 1990). However, participants are not necessarily happier overall
compared to nonparticipants. Churchgoers are happier than those who do not attend
religious services (Böhnke & Kohler, 2008), although the frequency of church visits is not
associated with happiness (Nawijn & Veenhoven, 2011).
All the aforementioned findings are about overall life satisfaction. Flow is a state in
which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter
(Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). A state of flow could be regarded as a peak experience (bottom-
left quadrant in Scheme 11.2). Research on flow (Csikszentmihalyi, 1975, 1990, 1998) finds
that optimal experiences are most likely to occur during structured leisure activities and
when reading (Della Fave & Massimini, 2003). Reading had been associated, in a positive
way, with happiness by Ragheb (1993), but Nawijn and Veenhoven (2011) failed to find a
significant association between frequency of reading and general life satisfaction.
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Watching TV generally relates negatively to overall happiness (Bruni & Stanca, 2006, 2008;
Della Fave & Bassi, 2003; Frey, Benesch, & Strutzer, 2005). Still, TV watching is a source
of pleasure (top-left quadrant in Scheme 11.2), though certainly not the most pleasurable
activity. In their analysis of 21 different activities, Krueger et al. (2009) found that walking,
making love, exercise, playing, and reading are the most enjoyed activities, in both their
French and US samples. Least enjoyable activities were housework, travel, shopping,
computer/email/Internet, taking care of one’s children (only in US sample), commuting, and
working. Serious leisure (Stebbins, 2007), in the form of hobbies, is deemed particularly
important for happiness. The limited data available on this subject suggest that people who
have a hobby are happier than those who do not (Boelhouwer & Stoop, 1999).
The way in which leisure activities influence happiness is related to age or certain
cohorts. Being active in later life is positively associated with overall life satisfaction
(Nimrod, 2007). Social activities and travel are associated with happiness for those aged 65-
74. Those aged 75 or older are the happiest, spending time with family and doing home-
based activities (Kelly, Steinkamp, & Kelly, 1987).
4.3 Leisure Travel
Holiday trips potentially add to individuals’ happiness in several ways. Vacationing may
have a direct effect on an individual’s happiness by anticipating a trip, which would allow
for increased hedonic level of affect. Similarly, savoring the holiday experience through
memories may induce an “afterglow” effect, which could cause higher post-trip levels of
hedonic affect. Finally, during the trip itself, people feel supposedly better than they do in
everyday life.
Individuals may also benefit from vacationing in a more indirect way by benefiting
from impressions or skills learned while on vacation, for instance, having learned a
language, understanding a culture, or having made new friends. Recuperation is also deemed
an important vacationing benefit.
Recent research has mostly supported the direct way in which vacationing adds to
individuals’ happiness (Boelhouwer & Stoop, 1999; De Bloom et al., 2010; Hagger, 2009;
Nawijn, 2010; Nawijn, 2011b; Nawijn, Marchand, Veenhoven, & Vingerhoets, 2010). For
instance, people who had recently had a holiday trip score higher on overall happiness than
those who did not (Boelhouwer & Stoop, 1999), which supports the afterglow hypothesis.
However, increased levels of post-trip happiness seem to be the exception rather than the
rule. Only those who have a stress-free holiday benefit - in terms of hedonic level of affect -
from such afterglow effects and only for 2 weeks (Nawijn et al.). Vacationers anticipating
holidays strongly score higher in overall happiness and hedonic level of affect than those
who anticipate holidays to a lesser extent (Hagger, 2009). Vacationers also experience
higher levels of hedonic level of affect than non-vacationers several weeks before the trip
starts (Nawijn et al.). While on holiday, vacationers are generally in a good mood (Nawijn,
2010), which is much better than their mood in everyday life (De Bloom et al.; Nawijn,
2011). The long-term effect of vacationing on overall happiness and hedonic level of effect
is virtually nonexistent (Nawijn, 2011a).
4.4 Leisure Satisfaction
Ateca-Amestoy, Serrano-del-Rosal, & Vera-Toscano (2008, p. 65) define leisure satisfaction
as follows (based on Beard and Ragheb (1980)): “positive perceptions or feelings that an
individual forms, elicits, or gains as a result of engaging in leisure activities and choices.
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It is the degree to which one is presently content or pleased with one’s general leisure
experiences and situations. This positive feeling of pleasure results from the satisfaction of
felt or unfelt needs of the individual.” Satisfaction with leisure appears to be positively
associated with happiness (Ateca-Amestoy, et al., 2008; Lloyd & Auld, 2002; Ragheb, 1993;
Spiers & Walker, 2009).
Satisfaction of life domains correlates fairly strongly with life satisfaction (Ateca-
Amestoy et al., 2008; Lloyd & Auld, 2002; Van Praag & Ferrer-i-Carbonell, 2004; Van
Praag, Frijters, & Ferrer-i-Carbonell, 2003). Part satisfactions (see Scheme 11.2) of finance,
health, job, and leisure are the four most important correlates with life satisfaction in
Germany (Van Praag et al.). The strength of the effects varies among workers and
nonworkers and between East and West Germany, with western non workers scoring
4.5 Conclusion
Casual leisure and leisure travel typically provide temporary happiness boosts which are the
strongest in the moment itself. In the case of leisure travel, vacationers are happier on
holiday compared to everyday life. Little is known about project-based leisure and serious
leisure; the limited data and theoretical assumptions suggest a positive effect on happiness.
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Research in the relation between leisure and happiness is still in its infancy, and there is a
dire need for future research. We present a brief overview of themes for further
5.1 Beyond Casual Leisure
The studies to date have focused mostly on what Stebbins (2001, 2007) refers to as casual
leisure. Little or no research has been undertaken in the areas of project-based leisure and
serious leisure. Within leisure travel research, the focus has been on the direct effects of
vacationing, not on the possible indirect effects. Project-based leisure and serious leisure
may add to happiness through goal striving. A hobby or a project seems particularly suited
to work on goals. A project is essentially a goal in itself. On top of that, projects and serious
leisure activities generally last longer than leisure travel or casual leisure. The outcome of
future studies on project-based leisure and serious leisure and their effect on happiness could
therefore be quite promising.
5.2 Specification
The question is not so much whether leisure adds to happiness, but what kinds of people
benefit most from what kinds of leisure. Effects of leisure are probably not the same for the
young and the old or for singles and couples. Specification is not only of interest to the
leisure industry, but it is also in the interest of consumers. This kind of research requires
large samples, and it is necessary that different populations are involved. In this context, we
note that the available data mainly draw on samples in rich countries. Little is known about
the importance of leisure and the allocation of free time in less developed countries and its
relation to happiness.
5.3 Cause and Effect
Since most existing studies are cross-sectional, we are inadequately informed about
causality. There is a dearth of research on the effects of happiness in leisure preferences and
behavior, and we are also largely in the dark about causal mechanisms. Follow-up studies
are needed for that purpose, preferably long-term follow-up studies that also involve
personal characteristics, such as personality and health. Since such follow-up studies are
very expensive, it is wise to join forces with existing panels, such as the German Socio-
Economic Panel or the Happiness Monitor (Oerlemans, 2009).
Jeroen Nawijn & Ruut Veenhoven
Happiness through leisure
5.4 Test of Theories
Lastly, happiness theories should be tested in a leisure context. Sirgy (2010) recently
proposed a research agenda for goal striving in relation to leisure travel. The hypotheses that
he proposed can be tested within other leisure domains as well. Additionally, comparison
and need theories lend themselves for (further) testing in studies on leisure.
Scheme 11.2
The four kinds of satisfaction
Scheme 11.1
Four qualities of life
Outer qualities
Inner qualities
Life chances
Livability of environment
Life-ability of the person
Life results
Utility of life
Appreciation of life
Inner qualities
Part of life
Part satisfaction
Life as a whole
Peak experience
Life satisfaction
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Happiness through leisure
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... Leisure is defined as an activity of free choice, which is meaningful and intrinsically motivated and produces pleasant experiences. The classification of leisure activities is not consistent in the literature [55]. Active leisure is referred to as a type of physical activity and social activity that involves some form of physical movement and social interaction during free time, which can include many different activities (for example, exercise, cycling, swimming, gardening, walking) [56]. ...
... The CB-SEM and the PLS-SEM are two forms of SEM. In this research, PLS-SEM outperformed CB-SEM in that the former could better cope with the non-normal data set and use the theoretical model which was not yet improved for an exploratory research [54,55]. Additionally, PLS-SEM can cope with two measurement models (reflective model and formative model) involved in the model put forward in this research. ...
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Scientific interest in how residential patterns affect both people’s subjective sense of safety and their behavior is increasing. The surge of gated communities in the world has changed the way we live to a great extent. Research on the gated development trend in postmodern cities is still limited; therefore, the purpose of this study was to analyze the relationship between residents’ attitudes toward gated enclaves and their sense of safety. At the same time, the relationship between a sense of security and active leisure behavior was also investigated. Using data collected from 350 college students in Fuzhou University Town, this study introduces a conceptual model to test the relationship between closed enclaves, campus security, and active leisure behavior while controlling population and community characteristics. The results of structural equation model analysis show that gated enclaves positively correlate with campus safety and positively correlate with active leisure behavior, and a safe campus positively correlates with active leisure behavior. The results of this study focus on the importance of gated enclaves as a living environment, and the discovery of functional characteristics of gated enclaves supports future interventions. In other words, when promoting active leisure behavior and increasing the sense of safety in the neighborhood environment, attention must be paid to the characteristics of these gated enclaves. In addition, the simultaneous measurement of these structures provides a dynamic observation of the existing environment, as well as information for future research and construction. Decision makers and urban planners can use these results to promote interaction and healthy behavior in the community under the multi-angle development of the existing access control, thereby improving residents’ sense of security, and increasing leisure participation.
... The classification of leisure activities is not consistent across the literature. [25] The most frequently studied classification is active leisure and passive leisure. [26] Active leisure refers to activities that require some amount of physical exertion such as running, walking, swimming, and cycling. ...
Full-text available
Context: India at present is experiencing a phenomenal increase in the number of older adults. Old age is marked by challenges across multiple domains of life. To overcome the challenges of old age, the focus should be on improving the quality of life (QOL) and meaning in life (MIL) of older adults. Aim: This study aimed to determine the effect of leisure activity on QOL and MIL of male and female older adults in old-age homes. Methodology: A cross-sectional study was conducted among 120 male and female retired older adults (65–80 years), living in old-age homes of Hooghly district, West Bengal, using the Older People's Quality of Life Questionnaire (OPQOL-35) by Bowling and Meaning in Life Questionnaire (MLQ) by Steger, Frazier, Oishi, & Kaler. Results: Older adults who engaged in active leisure activities had higher QOL and MIL than those engaged in passive leisure activities. Male older adults had higher QOL and MIL than female older adults. Conclusion: Opportunities to pursue active leisure activities should be promoted among older adults in old-age homes.
... Two hundred years later, in the ancient Greece, Aristotle also enshrines happiness as a major purpose of life and a goal in itself, drawing an analogy between leading a happy life and a virtuous life. Later on, rather than leading a morally good life, happiness is regarded as leading a satisfying life (Nawijn & Veenhoven, 2013). According to the livability theory developed by Veenhoven (2014), happiness is assumed to be the outcome of the gratification of needs, as facilitated by the actual living conditions. ...
... Deliberation about happiness began hundreds of years ago. Notably, the ancient Greeks were interested in happiness (Nawijn & Veenhoven, 2013). Socrates, a Greek Philosopher from the 5th Century B.C., has a unique place in the history of happiness. ...
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The aim of this study is to identify the difficulties of understanding and writing the graphical representation among rural undergraduate students at Bharathidasan university affiliated colleges in Tiruchirappalli region. It has adopted descriptive qualitative and quantitative research method. The subjects were 109 rural undergraduate students of English department at final year. They were instructed to understand the graphical representation and answer the following questions in one or two sentences. After investigating students’ writing product, the result of the research revealed that the rural students faced some difficulties in both understanding and writing the graphical representation. It was suggested that provide specific descriptions for understand the graphical representation and writing to improve students’ writing.
Taking inspiration from ethnographic methods, this study presents the experiences of young children and their families, as they interact with a display at the Workers Museum in Copenhagen, Denmark, analysing these through Ben Anderson's concept affective atmospheres. Adding to scholarship on emotion in leisure studies, the paper presents young visitor experiences as ongoing relational interactions between bodies, objects, and places, where atmospheres are central to the sensory leisure experience and deeply enmeshed with affectivity. With this perspective, we contribute to broadening the scholarship that challenges the division between positive and negative emotions, which continues to be foregrounded in leisure scholarship, arguing that such binary framework does not account for the granularity and complexity of emotional worlds. The research invites scholars and practitioners to attend to affective atmospheres in visitor experiences, while letting go of the notion that these can be controlled through careful curation.
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Leisure activities have been emphasized as an important predictor of well-being. However, little research has examined effects of leisure activity enactment on well-being over time. Moreover, it is unknown which activities are most beneficial for whom. We integrate diverse theoretical accounts of person-environment relations and propose a generic Personality- Activity-Well-Being (PAW) framework, which highlights different relations between personality traits, activities, and well-being. To investigate these relations, we used 11 annual waves from the Longitudinal Internet Studies for the Social Sciences (LISS) panel (total N = 12,703 participants, N = 59,108 assessments), which included measures of the Big Five personality traits, fifteen different leisure activities, and affective well-being and life satisfaction. Our pre-registered multi-level models revealed three sets of findings. First, we observed on average small expected between-person associations between leisure activities and well-being (e.g., higher average levels of holidays, evening socializing, talking to close others, exercise, and cultural activities were associated with higher well-being). Annual within-person fluctuations in several leisure activities also predicted well-being in expected ways, but effect sizes were very small and varied strongly across participants. Second, personality traits were related to leisure activities in hypothesized ways, yielding on average small but also some moderate and large correlations. Third, personality trait × leisure activity interactions were only evident on the between-person level, very small in size, and in the opposite direction of our expectations. Personality traits did not moderate well-being benefits from leisure within persons. We discuss the implications of our findings and sketch an agenda for future work.
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This research applies quantile Granger causality and impulse-response analyses to evaluate the causal linkages among Twitter’s daily happiness sentiment, economic policy uncertainty, and S&P 500 indices across the U.S. stock market cycles. We present notable evidence of bi-directional causality among cyclical components of Twitter’s daily happiness sentiment, economic policy uncertainty, and S&P 500 indices for most quantiles. The causal linkage of Twitter’s daily happiness sentiment and S&P 500 indices identified in this study reconciles the so-called Easterlin Paradox and Easterlin Illusion arguments from previous studies on income-happiness relationship. Moreover, given a high (low) EPU level, the positive (negative) impulse-response effects between the Twitter’s daily happiness sentiment and the S&P 500 indices are justified during a stock market bust cycle, but the signs of these correlations change to negative (positive) during a stock market boom cycle. These findings imply that investors’ hedging strategies can be linked to the surveillance of the Twitter’s daily happiness sentiment index.
Most studies on Taiwanese women’s leisure life mainly focus on lifestyle and leisure behaviors that fail to discuss the symbolic meanings or meaning-making process of participating in social leisure activities. This study applies the social exchange framework to examine the social leisure activities of Taiwanese urban women from two aspects: the meaning making of social leisure to them, and what they can attain through social leisure participation. The study found that Taiwanese urban women participating in social leisure activities are driven by extrinsic and intrinsic motivations. Social leisure activities are not only the settings for leisure but also the settings for expanding social relations and networks, in which leisure activities are primarily emotional and social in nature. Results show that to sustain positive effects of satisfaction and happiness from participating in social leisure, positive emotion and commitment matter to gain gratification through participating in social leisure activities.
A divorce can be one of the most traumatic events spouses and families experience; it may generate psychological and somatic negative effects and may also lead to financial difficulties. In this context, post-divorce travel has been promoted as a positive strategy for alleviating this stress; in fact, some hotels offer special services and promotions for divorcees. In this study, using time series data from 1996Q1 to 2019Q4, a structural VAR model is used to document the effect of registered divorces on the number of tourist departures from Mexico. The results indicate that the number of registered divorces positively stimulates the growth in outbound tourism. These results are confirmed by the application of the Granger causality test.
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This book is about the degree to which people take pleasure in life: in short 'happiness'. It tries to identify conditions that favor a positive appreciation of life. Thus it hopes to shed more light on a longstanding and intriguing ques­ tion and, possibly, to guide attempts to improve the human lot. During the preceding decades a growing number of investigations have dealt with this issue. As a result there is now a sizable body of data. Yet it is quite difficult to make sense of it. There is a muddle of theories, concepts and indicators, and many of the findings seem to be contradictory. This book attempts to bring some order into the field. The study draws on an inventory of empirical investigations which involved valid indicators of happiness; 245 studies are involved, which together yield some 4000 observations: for the main part correlational ones. These results are presented in full detail in the simultaneously published 'Databook of Happiness' (Veenhoven 1984). The present volume distils conclusions from that wealth of data. It tries to assess the reality value of the findings and the degree to which correlations reflect the conditions of happiness rather than the consequences of it. It then attempts to place the scattered findings in context. As such, this work is not a typical study of literature on happiness.
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Serious, casual, and project-based leisure constitute the foundation of the serious leisure perspective (SLP). So far as we know in the interdisciplinary field of leisure studies, these three forms together embrace all leisure activities. The SLP is the theoretic framework that synthesizes three main forms of leisure showing, at once, their distinctive features, similarities, and interrelationships. More precisely the SLP offers a classification and explanation of all leisure activities and experiences, as these two are framed in the social psychological, social, cultural, geographical, and historical conditions in which each activity and accompanying experience take place.
Handwritten autobiographies from 180 Catholic nuns, composed when participants were a mean age of 22 years, were scored for emotional content and related to survival during ages 75 to 95. A strong inverse association was found between positive emotional content in these writings and risk of mortality in late life (p < .001). As the quartile ranking of positive emotion in early life increased, there was a stepwise decrease in risk of mortality resulting in a 2.5-fold difference between the lowest and highest quartiles. Positive emotional content in early-life autobiographies was strongly associated with longevity 6 decades later. Underlying mechanisms of balanced emotional states are discussed.
The Values Study addressed three sets of direct questions on work attitudes.
This book includes 15 papers selected from the presentations that were delivered at the 15th World Congress of the International Sociological Association. These papers were prepared for that organization's research committee on international tourism, which took as its overall theme 'the tourist as a metaphor of the social world'. Following the introductory chapter, two contributions (chapters 2 and 3) raise serious fundamental questions about how academics should research (and hence theorize) about tourists. The next two contributions (chapters 4 and 5) provide a critique of conventional tourism wisdom. Chapter 6 suggests that tourism is an intricate and evolving social network with varying degrees of trust that are based on the correlative processes of self-presentation and interpretation. Chapter 7 conceptualizes the tourist and the social world within a paradigm of social facts so that the former becomes a sign of the latter. Chapter 8 sees the tourist as never entirely alone on an uncharted journey, because there are always those who have undertaken it before. Chapter 9 asks the question as to whether or not tourists experience reality. Chapter 10 provides an analogy between tourism and love in all its many phases. Chapter 11 emphasizes that it is necessary to go beyond traditional analyses that focus solely on the 'tourist gaze'. The next two essays (chapters 12 and 13) highlight the fact that not all tourists are identical and hence, by implication, that the tourist as a metaphor of the social world must be understood as a multiple persona figurative of complex reality. The final three contributions (chapters 14-16) present postmodern and futuristic perspectives on tourists. The book has a subject index.
Tinsley and Tinsley (1986) postulated that perceived freedom, intrinsic motivation, facilitative arousal, and commitment are necessary but insufficient for a person to experience leisure. They additionally proposed that experiencing leisure would result in absorption in the task at hand, lack of focus on self, feelings of freedom or lack of control, enriched perception of objects and events, increased sensitivity to feelings, increased intensity of emotion, and decreased awareness of the passage of time. We administered a questionnaire designed to operationalize these four prerequisites and seven attibutes of leisure experience to 99 college students. The results generally supported Tinsley and Tinsley's hypotheses that subjects would rate leisure activities higher on these dimensions than they would either work or maintenance activities. We discuss the implications of these findings for counseling psychologists.
A new methodology for the systemic appraisal of personal project systems was utilized as an approach to understanding perceived life satisfaction. Variables derived from the Personal Projects Matrix were shown to explain variability in reported life satisfaction in two separate, studies, one with a university sample, the other in a small community. High life satisfaction was found to be associated with (a) involvement in projects of high short-term importance that were highly enjoyable and moderately difficult, and (b) the presence of a social network that shared project involvements and offered social support. A cross-validation analysis revealed that the results obtained with the larger university sample generalized to the community group. The studies reported below were based on three interrelated assumptions: (a) that perceptions of life satisfaction are related to the way in which individuals structure and organize their projects and concerns; (b) that these projects and concerns may be conceived as being organized in systems whose properties can be assessed; and (c) that indexes based on such measurement will explain significant proportions of variance in global measures of perceived life satisfaction.