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Leisure is a key life domain and a core ingredient for overall well-being. Yet, within positive psychology, its definition and the psychological pathways by which it evokes happiness are elusive (Diener and Biswas-Diener 2008). In this paper, we seek to address these issues by delineating leisure and presenting a conceptual framework linking leisure to subjective well-being (SWB). Leisure is defined as a multidimensional construct, encompassing both structural and subjective aspects. Respectively, it is the amount of activity/time spent outside of obligated work time and/or perceived engagement in leisure as subjectively defined. To explain the effects of leisure on SWB, a quantitative summary of theories from 363 research articles linking leisure and SWB was conducted. Based on our findings, we propose five core psychological mechanisms that leisure potentially triggers to promote leisure SWB: detachment-recovery, autonomy, mastery, meaning, and affiliation (DRAMMA). These psychological mechanisms promote leisure SWB which leads to enhanced global SWB through a bottom-up theory of SWB. We discuss how future research can use this conceptual model for understanding the interplay between leisure and SWB.
Leisure and Subjective Well-Being: A Model
of Psychological Mechanisms as Mediating Factors
David B. Newman Louis Tay Ed Diener
Published online: 16 April 2013
Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013
Abstract Leisure is a key life domain and a core ingredient for overall well-being. Yet,
within positive psychology, its definition and the psychological pathways by which it evokes
happiness are elusive (Diener and Biswas-Diener 2008). In this paper, we seek to address
these issues by delineating leisure and presenting a conceptual framework linking leisure to
subjective well-being (SWB). Leisure is defined as a multidimensional construct, encom-
passing both structural and subjective aspects. Respectively, it is the amount of activity/time
spent outside of obligated work time and/or perceived engagement in leisure as subjectively
defined. To explain the effects of leisure on SWB, a quantitative summary of theories from
363 research articles linking leisure and SWB was conducted. Based on our findings, we
propose five core psychological mechanisms that leisure potentially triggers to promote
leisure SWB: detachment-recovery, autonomy, mastery, meaning, and affiliation (DRAMMA).
These psychological mechanisms promote leisure SWB which leads to enhanced global SWB
through a bottom-up theory of SWB. We discuss how future research can use this conceptual
model for understanding the interplay between leisure and SWB.
Keywords Leisure Subjective well-being Psychological mechanisms Review
D. B. Newman (&)
Department of Psychology, College of William and Mary, P.O. Box 8795, Williamsburg,
VA 23187-8795, USA
L. Tay
Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA
E. Diener
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and The Gallup Organization, Omaha, NE, USA
J Happiness Stud (2014) 15:555–578
DOI 10.1007/s10902-013-9435-x
1 Introduction
He enjoys true leisure who has time to improve his soul’s estate.
- Henry David Thoreau
Poets, philosophers, and pilgrims have promoted the role of leisure in well-being. Well
before Henry David Thoreau commented on leisure’s relation to well-being, Aristotle
discussed the importance of leisure, arguing that leisure is more important than work
because leisure provides pleasure and happiness in life (Aristotle 1998,Politics, VIII, III),
which is ‘‘something final and self-sufficient, and is the end of action’’ (Aristotle 1980,
Nichomachean Ethics, I, VII). This belief that SWB can be precipitated by leisure continues
to our current day and may explain the persistent growth in tourism—widely considered to
be a leisure activity—despite the waning economy. In 2010, international tourist receipts
reached $919 billion, marking a 4.7 % increase in real terms from the previous year
(UNWTO 2011). During the first 6 months of 2012, 22 million more international arrivals
were reported, marking a 5 % increase from the same time period in 2011 (UNWTO 2012).
Thus, despite growing concerns over the struggling global economy, it is evident that people
greatly value leisure and most likely believe it will promote their well-being. In fact, boosts
in happiness levels prior to vacations (e.g., Nawijn et al. 2010) likely indicate that people
anticipate and expect holiday trips to increase their well-being.
Recently, popular notions that leisure enhances subjective well-being (SWB) have
gained increasing scientific support. Many studies have shown that SWB positively cor-
relates with different aspects of leisure, such as visiting family and friends, playing sports
or games, watching television, listening to the radio (e.g., Menec and Chipperfield 1997;
Yarnal et al. 2008), taking tourist trips (Mitas 2010), making art (Reynolds and Lim 2007),
and using the internet (Koopman-Boyden and Reid 2009). This positive relation has per-
sisted across various subpopulations, including adolescents (Staempfli 2007), retirees (Kuo
et al. 2007), and even schizophrenics (Mausbach et al. 2007). In fact, in a study of USSR
college students, leisure and recreation satisfaction was shown to be the strongest predictor
of overall SWB, measured through an event memory task as well as traditional survey
methods (Balatsky and Diener 1993). Satisfaction with recreation correlated with three
measures of SWB—Delighted-Terrible scale (Andrews and Withey 1976), Satisfaction
with Life Scale (SWLS; Diener et al. 1985), and a global domain—higher than any other
domain, such as satisfaction with housing, education, paid employment, friendship, or even
family relationships. This high correlation with SWB has garnered support in previous
studies as well (Andrews and Withey 1976; Campbell et al. 1976; Headey et al. 1991).
Despite the positive relation, less is known about when and how leisure enhances
overall SWB (Diener and Biswas-Diener 2008). In part, researchers have defined leisure in
various ways such as time not occupied by paid or unpaid work or personal chores and
obligations (Roberts 1999; Sonnentag 2001), preferred activities pursued during free time
for their own sake, fun, entertainment, or self-improvement (Argyle 1996), free time which
allows the mind to contemplate physical and spiritual realities (Pieper 1952), a state of
being characterized by freedom and intrinsic motivation (Iso-Ahola 1997; Passmore and
French 2001), and as a multidimensional construct including both activities and a sub-
jective state of mind (Edginton et al. 2002; Haworth and Veal 2004). Moreover, less work
has clearly demarcated the differences between leisure and constructs such as leisure
satisfaction or recreational satisfaction, which may be construed as part of SWB.
Further, different conceptual mechanisms for how leisure promotes SWB have been
proposed. Some scholars emphasize the experience of flow during leisure which in turn
556 D. B. Newman et al.
relates to higher SWB (Csikszentmihalyi 1990; Csikszentmihalyi and LeFevre 1989).
Others underscore the experience of disengagement during non-work time as an antecedent
of well-being (e.g., Sonnentag and Fritz 2007; Sonnentag and Zijlstra 2006). And others
draw on self-determination theory (Ryan and Deci 2000) to show how leisure experiences
generate SWB (e.g., Kleiber et al. 2011, pg. 167). There is an assemblage of approaches
but no overarching conceptual framework that summarizes the key pathways between
leisure and SWB.
In this paper, we seek to address these conceptual gaps by establishing a psychological
model that links leisure to SWB in general through a bottom-up approach (see Fig. 1). In this
model, we propose an operational definition of leisure that enables researchers to quantify
leisure in relation to leisure satisfaction and global SWB. Also, we conducted a literature
review of leisure and SWB to identify and summarize the key theoretical linkages. Based on
the review, we propose that both structural leisure (e.g., leisure-type activities and time spent
outside obligated work time) and subjective leisure (e.g., perceived leisure frequency
and perceived participation in leisure) relates to SWB via psychological mechanisms
Psychological mechanisms
Activity/Time Spent Outside Obligated
Work Time
Typical Leisure Activities
Time Spent during Non-work
Engagement of Leisure as Subjectively
Leisure Participation
Leisure Frequency
Domain SWB
Leisure Satisfaction
Positive Feelings
Negative Feelings
Global SWB
Life Satisfaction
Positive Feelings
Negative Feelings
Fig. 1 Conceptual model linking leisure to subjective well-being
Leisure and SWB 557
(i.e., detachment-recovery, autonomy, mastery, meaning, affiliation) by promoting the
domain of leisure as one of many domains affecting global SWB.
The goal of this paper is to integrate the psychological mechanisms from various
theories relating leisure and aspects of SWB via a quantitative summary of the literature. In
so doing, we establish a conceptual model in which key psychological mechanisms pro-
mote specific aspects of the leisure domain SWB. Although there are many psychological
theories on SWB, not all aspects are equally applicable to the domain of leisure. For
instance, Maslow’s theory of needs posits that the fulfillment of basic needs such as
housing and food is important for happiness. However, this may not be a relevant
mechanism underlying leisure and SWB. Therefore our paper aims to uncover key
mechanisms in the literature linking leisure to SWB. Our contribution is the identification
of key mechanisms and an integrative summary of how leisure promotes SWB. In the
process, we also seek to provide conceptual clarity on the components of leisure and SWB,
and pinpoint novel areas that require more research.
2 Conceptualization of SWB
According to Diener’s tripartite model of SWB (Diener 1984), SWB consists of high life
satisfaction, high positive feelings, and low negative feelings. Life satisfaction is an overall
judgment of life; positive and negative feelings capture positive and negative affective
experiences, respectively. Each component is distinct but related with good psychometric
evidence establishing this model (Arthaud-Day et al. 2005; Lucas et al. 1996). Although
there are different ways of configuring these components in relation to SWB (see Busseri
and Sadava 2011), it is clear that each component is necessary for describing the domain
space of SWB. Unfortunately, how these different aspects are related to leisure has not
received conceptual attention. In our review, we use the term SWB to encompass these
different aspects. In our analysis, we propose that the fulfillment of certain psychological
experiences will enhance SWB in leisure and as a whole, without differentiating the
components of SWB. After delineating the various psychological pathways linking leisure
to SWB, we posit how leisure may differentially affect satisfaction, positive feelings, and
negative feelings in leisure SWB and global SWB.
3 Bottom-Up Theory of SWB: Leisure SWB and Global SWB
In our theoretical model (See Fig. 1), we utilize a bottom-up perspective which argues that
global SWB is based on a weighting of key life domains such as leisure, work, and health.
Therefore engaging in leisure could potentially promote the various dimensions of SWB in
the leisure domain, which subsequently promotes global SWB (for review of bottom-up
and top-down theories, see Diener 1984; Diener and Ryan 2009).
Campbell et al. (1976) originally proposed a satisfaction judgment model of global life
evaluations, a completely bottom-up approach that argues that global evaluations can be
entirely and accurately summed from individual domains. While empirical studies have not
validated this model completely, there has been substantial evidence in support of a partial
bottom-up approach. In strong support of a bottom-up approach of SWB, specific domains
affect SWB most strongly when they are congruent with individuals’ values (Oishi et al.
1999). For instance, those who place high value in power domains find greater satisfaction
in buying expensive clothes than those who do not value power domains. Likewise, those
558 D. B. Newman et al.
who value and experience high levels of satisfaction in leisure experience greater levels of
life satisfaction. Similarly, when a specific domain is accessible to an individual, domain
satisfaction correlates more strongly with global life satisfaction (Strack et al. 1988). Along
these lines, life satisfaction judgments are made from salient, relevant, and accessible
sources of information (Schimmack et al. 2002). Some of these sources produce temporal
changes in life satisfaction (e.g., spring break) while others produce more stable changes
(e.g., academic success). Further, when participants are asked to think about a particular
domain, their domain satisfaction influences life satisfaction. This evidence supports a
bottom-up approach to SWB.
The bottom-up perspective has also recently received renewed interest because of
Kahneman’s (1999) proposal of ‘‘objective happiness,’’ which is defined as the aggregate
of individual moments of happiness. Individuals evaluate each moment as good or bad
affective states and these moments can be assigned a numerical value; summing affective
states across different situations can allow researchers to accurately determine the overall
happiness of individuals (e.g., Dockray et al. 2010; Kahneman et al. 2004; Killingsworth
and Gilbert 2010). This approach weights overall happiness based on time durations, which
is different from a subjective weighting approach assumed when individuals make
responses to indicators of global SWB. However, the logic is consistent with a bottom-up
perspective to global SWB. In Kahneman et al.’s (2004) research, it was shown that
happiness during leisure was substantially higher than during work or commuting. This
perspective affirms that leisure SWB can significantly raise overall happiness.
4 Leisure: A Psychological Perspective
We seek a psychological definition of a leisure construct that encompasses the broad
brushstrokes of current perspectives (Iso-Ahola 1979; Kleiber et al. 2011; Neulinger 1974,
1981) and enables us to quantify the extent individuals experience leisure in relation to
SWB. We propose that leisure is the amount of activities/time spent outside obligated work
time and/or engagement in leisure as subjectively defined. This perspective on leisure
integrates two schools of thought on leisure: structural and subjective. In the following, we
describe both structural and subjective leisure as ideal types, recognizing that in practice,
researchers may often combine both aspects of leisure.
4.1 Structural Leisure
The structural aspects of leisure are frequently considered by psychologists and sociolo-
gists to be one approach to understanding leisure (e.g., Kelly and Godbey 1992; Kleiber
et al. 2011). We use the term structure to emphasize how leisure is structured by time or
activity. Based on this definition, leisure may be indexed by (a) the amount of time spent
outside of work, such as the number of evenings or hours set aside to spend with friends or
family. By extension, leisure can also be indexed by the frequency of leisure activities
(e.g., Brajs
ˇganec et al. 2011; Lloyd and Auld 2002). Specifically, frequency is anchored
in the number of times individuals engage in a specific leisure-type activity; or (b) the
number of activities typically viewed as leisure (e.g., watching a movie). For example, the
amount of leisure diversity is defined as the number of different leisure activities indi-
viduals endorse. In some cases, researchers have referred to this as objective leisure (e.g.,
Kleiber et al. 2011), but we prefer to use the term ‘‘structural’’ because the term ‘‘objec-
tive’’ has a strong connotation that this form of leisure is not self-reported, which in
Leisure and SWB 559
practice is often the case. The sense in which structural leisure is objective, however, lies in
whether the time or activity is anchored in a specific manner. For instance, researchers who
measure non-work time and assume this to be leisure would be using a structural approach
to leisure. However, researchers who measure amount of leisure time, without specifying
what constitutes leisure, would use a subjective approach to leisure.
4.2 Subjective Leisure
Although structural aspects of leisure are informative, they are incomplete from a psy-
chological perspective. This is because a structural definition imposes an unwritten
assumption that the amounts of time spent outside of work or specific activities constitute
leisure for individuals. Nevertheless, this may not necessarily be the case. For instance,
some individuals may engage in and consider exercise as leisure whereas others view it as
a chore. Therefore, it is important to measure the subjective sense of leisure involvement.
A defining quality of subjective leisure is that individuals perceive themselves to be
engaging in leisure; and leisure broadly covers activities or time that are construed as
leisure by individuals. Based on this definition, a key difference between structural and
subjective leisure is whether leisure is externally defined or internally defined.
Within leisure sciences, this view of leisure has often been conceptualized and mea-
sured as participation (e.g., Tinsley and Eldredge 1995) in leisure. It is also possible to
measure it as frequency (e.g., Russell 1987) in a global sense, which is not tied to a
particular activity or time. For example, one may ask participants the frequency of leisure
activities in a week. In this manner, participants decide subjectively what leisure looks like
for them, and make ratings on the amount of it. These measures may often use rating scales
for participation and frequency (See Fig. 1).
This conceptualization of subjective leisure is distinct from leisure SWB which focuses
on the evaluations and affective reactions to leisure measured by leisure satisfaction or
affective experiences in leisure (e.g., positive and negative feelings experienced during
leisure). Subjective leisure emphasizes perceived amount whereas leisure SWB emphasizes
perceived enjoyment. Further, subjective leisure is also different from the subjective or
experiential definition of leisure; that is, how an activity is construed as leisure (we elaborate
on why in the following section) (see Kelly and Godbey 1992; Kleiber et al. 2011).
4.3 Interface Between Structural and Subjective Aspects
Our dual definition of leisure is proposed as ideal types for conceptual clarity. However, in
the measurement of leisure, these two aspects may be combined. For example, individuals
may be presented with a checklist of activities in which they are asked for whether they
engage in an activity (‘‘Not applicable/Do not enjoy’’) and frequency of engagement
(‘‘Never’’ to ‘‘Every Day’’) within the same response scale (e.g., Pressman et al. 2009).
Therefore in our theoretical model (see Fig. 1), structural and subjective leisure fall under a
broader category of leisure. Another related issue worth mentioning is that although the
proposed definitions of leisure are consistent with past theory (e.g., Kleiber et al. 2011),
these definitions may also be interpreted as leisure engagement, or the degree to which
individuals participate in leisure—structural and subjective. In which case, structural and
subjective leisure may be viewed as two approaches for measuring leisure engagement.
It is important to note that leisure researchers frequently employ an experiential defi-
nition of leisure (Chick 1998; de Grazia 1962; Kelly 1982), in which they attempt to define
leisure by ‘‘free choice’’, or a sense that an activity is ‘‘freely chosen’’ (e.g., Dattilo and
560 D. B. Newman et al.
Kleiber 1993; Mannell and Iso-Ahola 1987). The emphasis focuses on when activities are
properly construed as ‘‘leisure.’’ There are several reasons why we do not include this
definition for our present purposes. First, one issue with the experiential definition is that it
carries the assumption that leisure has to be freely chosen. However, the philosophical
nature of free choice, and the culture and social environmental constraints on leisure
choices (Stebbins 2005) make it difficult to ascertain when an activity actually conforms to
this cardinal criterion. Second, even if experiential leisure is defined solely on the basis of a
subjective sense that it is freely chosen (i.e., ‘‘I freely choose this activity [Yes/No]’’), it
confounds the construct of autonomy (i.e., free choice) with the construct of leisure. For
the purposes of our theoretical model, we are motivated to disentangle these two aspects so
as to address whether leisure promotes SWB via a psychological mechanism such as
autonomy. Third, in our psychological model of leisure and SWB, we are less concerned
with whether a reported activity complies with a theoretic definition of leisure. Instead, we
are interested in whether individuals are engaging in activities commonly viewed as leisure
(structural leisure), or whether participants sense that they are getting enough leisure as
defined on their own terms (subjective leisure). Both aspects measure the degree to which
individuals engage in leisure.
The advantage of excluding the experiential definition of leisure is that it opens up the
possibility that different individuals, demographic groups, and cultures may have differing
notions of what leisure is, and what types of activities constitute leisure. By implication, it
is possible that groups of individuals who engage in specific types of leisure activity but
not experience autonomy (i.e., free choice) may be less happy. This enables us to address
when leisure—as defined by individuals or societies—has salutary effects on SWB, and
when it does not. For research purposes, we are less encumbered by whether an activity
fulfills the restrictive requirement to be defined as leisure, in order to be included in our
leisure construct space. For example, we can address whether leisure in the form of
habitual to obsessive TV watching enhances SWB, and not only whether leisure in the
form of ‘‘freely chosen’’ TV watching enhances SWB.
5 Leisure and Psychological Mechanisms
In our conceptual model, we propose that both structural and subjective aspects of leisure
are related to leisure SWB via similar psychological mechanisms. In the following, we
present how these psychological pathways are derived from the literature. Our proposed
theoretical model suggests that certain psychological mechanisms are activated in leisure,
which can directly promote the different aspects of SWB in leisure. The idea that psy-
chological mechanisms greatly influence the quality of leisure is supported by
Csikszentmihalyi and LeFevre’s (1989) finding that flow is a greater predictor of the
enjoyment of the activity than the form or type of the activity. The extent to which
individuals experienced mastery and autonomy in their activities, thus producing a sense of
flow, influenced the quality of the activity more than the subjectively assigned label of
work or leisure. Thus, the underlying psychological mechanisms in leisure are critically
important in understanding the nature of SWB in leisure.
Our goal was to develop a psychological model that parsimoniously covers the key
mechanisms relating leisure and SWB from various theoretical perspectives. To do so, we
conducted a quantitative summary of the existing theories based on a literature search. A
keyword search on PsycINFO using ‘‘leisure or recreation’’ and ‘‘well-being, life satis-
faction, quality of life, emotion, or happiness’’ recovered 3,620 articles. Out of these
Leisure and SWB 561
articles, 363 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters were identified as relevant to the
topic as they sought to examine the relation between leisure and SWB. Out of this subset,
248 articles did not cite or reference any specific frameworks; and 15 theories were cited or
referenced by just one article. Because we sought parsimony, we focused only on theories
that were cited or referenced by at least two articles in the literature. The articles were
examined for the theories proposed and the underlying psychological processes invoked by
the theory.
An initial taxonomy of psychological processes—affiliation, mastery, meaning, and
autonomy—linking leisure and SWB was based on prominent theories within SWB.
Theories of SWB by Maslow (1954), Ryff and Keyes (1995), Ryan and Deci (2000), and
Csikszentmihalyi (1990) emphasize the fulfillment of different psychological needs such as
mastery, autonomy, affiliation, and meaning required to enhance SWB. Specifically,
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs argues that affiliation (termed belongingness and love at the
middle level) is necessary at various stages for an individual’s well-being. Ryff and Keyes’
(1995) six dimensions of psychological well-being support the experiences of autonomy,
mastery, meaning, and affiliation. Ryan and Deci (2000) argue that the satisfaction of
autonomy, relatedness, and competence promotes psychological well-being; relatedness
can be mapped on to affiliation, while competence can be construed as mastery.
Using this set of psychological mechanisms, we proceeded to code for psychological
mechanisms implied by the theories. We found that our list of four mechanisms was
comprehensive but did not account for detachment-recovery. In work psychology, leisure
activities have been studied using the perspectives of disengagement from work (e.g.,
Sonnentag and Fritz 2007; Sonnentag and Zijlstra 2006), conservation of resources theory
(Hobfoll 1989), and effort recovery (Meijman and Mulder 1998). Therefore, the primary
function of leisure is to produce psychological detachment from work, which is a precursor
to the restoration of psychological and physical resources required for continued func-
tioning and well-being (Etzion et al. 1998). Based on this, we added detachment-recovery
as another key psychological mechanism to our list.
Table 1reveals the results of our initial analysis. We rank the number of times various
theories have been mentioned and present a short summary of each theory. For each theory,
we identified and proposed key psychological mechanisms (explicit or implicit in the
theory) that link leisure to SWB. The theories, frameworks, and models most cited in the
literature establish that these psychological mechanisms enhance SWB in leisure.
After this initial step of identifying five psychological mechanisms from the 363 peer-
reviewed articles, we selected a random subset of 100 articles from the larger subset of
248 articles that did not reference any specific theory or framework. Since the 248
articles were listed chronologically by date of publication, we selected two articles to
code and then skipped the next three. We continued this process to create a chrono-
logically representative sample. These 100 articles were tested to determine if the five
psychological mechanisms proposed could be interpreted as potential mediating factors
relating leisure to SWB. For example, while Heo et al. (2011) do not reference any
specific theory or model, social relationships, detachment, and meaning are clearly
measured as mediating factors between leisure satisfaction and internet usage in older
adults. In this subset of 100 articles, 72 articles include at least one of our psychological
mechanisms as a potential mediating factor. Therefore, the psychological mechanisms
selected accurately and comprehensively reflect the majority of research on leisure and
SWB. Table 2shows the results from this tally. In the following, we elaborate on the
theoretical underpinnings for each proposed mechanism and summarize empirical evi-
dence relating leisure and SWB.
562 D. B. Newman et al.
Table 1 A tally of the number of occurrences of relevant frameworks, theories, and models along with
corresponding psychological mechanisms from the theoretical model
Framework/theory/model found
in literature search
Summary Number of
Flow (Csikszentmihalyi 1990) The psychological state of total immersion and
complete focus in an activity leads to optimal
44 Mastery
Activity theory (Havighurst
The elderly need to stay engaged and active in
social relationships to age healthily.
27 Affiliation/
Self-determination theory
(Ryan and Deci 2000)
Autonomy, competence, and relatedness are the
three psychological needs required for
psychological well-being
24 Autonomy/
Serious leisure (Stebbins 1992) Serious leisure is a leisure pursuit of an amateur,
hobbyist, or volunteer, requiring high levels of
skill, knowledge, and experience
14 Mastery/meaning
Disengagement theory
(Cumming and Henry 1961)
The elderly disengage with social ties and
relationships as they age
14 Affiliation
Continuity theory (Atchley
The elderly maintain the same leisure activities as
they age
12 Autonomy
Hierarchy of needs (Maslow
Humans progress through five stages of motivation:
physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem, and
12 Affiliation/
Conservation of resources
theory (Hobfoll 1989)
Individuals accumulate resources used to overcome
or respond to stress and threats
11 Detachment from
Effort-recovery model
(Meijman and Mulder 1998)
Effort expended during work leads to load reactions
and can hamper the recovery process
8 Detachment from
Selection, optimization and
compensation theory (Baltes
and Baltes 1990)
As people age, they become more selective in
choosing activities and social relationships,
optimizing choices while compensating for
weaker areas
7 Affiliation/
Socioemotional selectivity
theory (Carstensen 1992)
As people age, they become increasingly selective,
choosing emotionally and socially rewarding
experiences and goals
4 Affiliation/
Need theory (Diener and Lucas
SWB is enhanced through the satisfaction of basic
needs, such as social contact and food
2 Affiliation
Innovation theory (Nimrod
The introduction of novel leisure activities after
retirement enhances post-retirement wellbeing
2 Autonomy
Attention-restoration theory
(Kaplan 1995,2001)
Nature scenes help individuals recover from stress
by improving cognitive functioning
2 Detachment from
Compensation theory (Chick
and Hood 1996)
Individuals tend to choose leisure activities that are
the opposite of one’s work activities, thus
providing satisfaction not realized in the work
2 Detachment from
Leisure and well-being model
(Carruthers and Hood 2007)
It is necessary to directly facilitate the development
of the contexts and experiences that increase
positive emotion and the development of the
resources and capacities that support well-being
2 Affiliation/
No framework 248
Examples of other relevant
Optimal arousal theory (Iso-Ahola, 1980);
psychophysiological restoration theory (Ulrich
et al. 1991)
Leisure and SWB 563
5.1 Detachment-Recovery
Theories from the literature that support detachment and recovery from work as a mech-
anism linking leisure to SWB include the conservation of resources theory (11 references)
(Hobfoll 1989,1998), the effort-recovery model (8 references) (Meijman and Mulder
1998), the attention-restoration theory (2 references) (Kaplan 1995), and compensation
theory (2 references) (Chick and Hood 1996). These theories refer to the effect of demands
and resources utilized in leisure on well-being. Specifically, the effort-recovery model
states that leisure activities that draw on the same resources used during work will hinder
the recovery process. Similarly, according to the conservation of resources model, indi-
viduals can build up resources during leisure time activities to overcome stress at work,
thereby improving well-being. Both of these models have garnered empirical support (Fritz
and Sonnentag 2005; Korpela and Kinnunen 2010; Sonnentag 2001; Sonnentag and
Niessen 2008). The attention-restoration theory (Kaplan 1995) argues that time spent in
nature facilitates cognitive recovery and negates the negative effects of stress. According
to the compensation theory (Chick and Hood 1996), individuals tend to engage in leisure
activities that draw on resources not used in work, which satisfies a larger range of needs
and improves SWB. These specific theories and frameworks explain in nuanced ways how
the process of detachment from work can mediate the relationship to SWB.
Specific studies that refer to these theories offer empirical support and describe in detail
how detachment and recovery lead to SWB. Since work is effortful and strains one’s
physiological and psychological resources, working continuously can produce negative
SWB (e.g., burnout; Schaufeli et al. 2008). Under these conditions, time away from work is
essential for recovery (Etzion et al. 1998; Meijman and Mulder 1998), which has been
defined as a return to a homeostasis set point or to a mental baseline (Vittersø 2011).
Nevertheless, not all time away from work leads to recovery, as an individual may not be
psychologically detached (Sonnentag and Fritz 2007). For instance, one may be ruminating
about work albeit trying to relax (cf. Cropley and Purvis 2003). To counter this process of
rumination during nonwork time, individuals can cognitively switch off by engaging in
distraction techniques. According to the self-regulation model of ruminative thought,
distraction techniques include cognitive strategies such as attention switching and thought
stopping as well as behavioral strategies such as engaging in new leisure activities
requiring cognitive attention (Martin and Tesser 1996). Distraction from work has also
been shown to improve sleep onset latency (Ellis and Cropley 2002), which would further
Table 2 A tally of the total
number of occurrences of pro-
posed psychological mechanisms
found as a potential mediating
factor between leisure and SWB
from a chronologically represen-
tative subset of 100 articles not
listing any framework, theory, or
Corresponding psychological mechanism Number of
Affiliation 52
Autonomy 16
Detachment 13
Meaning 11
Mastery 11
None 28
Articles listing more than
one mechanism
Total number of articles
in random subset
564 D. B. Newman et al.
lead to recovery. Therefore, nonwork contexts produce recovery when it helps individuals
disengage from work-related matters.
Following this line of reasoning, leisure indirectly promotes SWB via detachment from
work. Research has shown that quality leisure experiences leads to lower need for
recovery, which in turn relates to higher SWB, specifically experience of fatigue (Son-
nentag and Zijlstra 2006). Also, the extent individuals enjoy their leisure can be a proxy for
detachment. Indeed, post-vacation life satisfaction was significantly higher than pre-
vacation life satisfaction, particularly for those who enjoyed their vacations (Lounsbury
and Hoopes 1986).
More generally, leisure not only produces detachment from work, but it can help
individuals detach from life pressures and so produce more positive cognitions and
emotions through recovery. Detachment and recovery can occur through rest, enabling
recuperation from high levels of exhaustion from work, and may be characterized by
sleeping or lying on the beach. Detachment and recovery can also occur through arousal-
seeking behavior which provides respite from under-arousal or boredom at work through
activities such as skydiving, skiing, or traveling to exotic locations. The types of leisure
activities that produce detachment and recovery are not restricted to low arousal recovery
activities (e.g., watching TV, reading a newspaper), but may include more physically
intense forms of leisure (e.g., mountain biking, running) (Rook and Zijlstra 2006). In part,
it may be because differences in job characteristics (e.g., level of job demands) are better
matched with different types of leisure activities (cf. Chick and Hood 1996; Cropley and
Purvis 2003; Sonnentag and Zijlstra 2006). For example, individuals who have demanding
jobs may find low arousal recovery activities more restorative than high arousal activities.
5.2 Autonomy
In leisure studies, autonomy is usually viewed as a necessary requisite of leisure (e.g.,
Leisure and well-being model, compensation theory). Several important theories found in
the literature include autonomy as a necessary mediating link to SWB in leisure. In
particular, self-determination theory (SDT) (24 references) (Ryan 1995; Ryan and Deci
2001) states that autonomy is one of the three basic needs required of overall well-being.
The high tally of SDT references in leisure research attests to the importance of autonomy
in leisure. Aside from SDT, continuity theory (9 references) (Atchley 1976), innovation
theory (2 references) (Nimrod 2008), compensation theory (2 references) (Chick and Hood
1996), and the leisure and well-being model (2 references) (Carruthers and Hood 2007)
argue that autonomy is an essential mechanism promoting SWB in leisure. Continuity
theory holds that individuals tend to participate in the same activities after a major change
in life, allowing one to cope with change and enhance well-being (Atchley 1976,1989),
whereas innovation theory states that well-being is increased through engagement in new
leisure activities after retirement (Nimrod 2008). While these theories may appear to be in
conflict with each other, they actually both support a notion of autonomy, as continuity
theory suggests that the participation in the same leisure activities actually restores per-
ceptions of control and freedom which ultimately lead to SWB (Hutchinson et al. 2003).
On the other hand, the link between innovation theory and autonomy is more easily
apparent as the engagement in new leisure activities requires independence and self-
direction. Compensation theory (Chick and Hood 1996) implies that autonomy is required
of individuals as they choose leisure activities that engage in resources not used during
work. Finally, the leisure and well-being model (Carruthers and Hood 2007) simply defines
autonomy as a requisite of leisure, which when satisfied, leads to greater SWB. According
Leisure and SWB 565
to these theories, autonomy is an essential mediator between leisure activities and well-
In the context of leisure, researchers use terms such as intrinsic leisure motivation and
autonomous motivation in leisure to more specifically describe autonomy’s relation to
SWB. Intrinsic motivations describe activities that follow one’s inner interests, performed
spontaneously and naturally (Deci 1975). Those who report higher levels of intrinsic
motivation experience greater levels of life enjoyment and psychological well-being (Graef
et al. 1983). More specifically defined, intrinsic leisure motivation (ILM) correlates pos-
itively with self-efficacy (r=.18) and predicts greater satisfaction with life (r=.19) and
lower negative feelings (r=.29) (Byrd, Hageman, and Belle Isle 2007). ILM also cor-
relates with happiness (r=.55), is associated with a high level of flow (Haworth and Hill
1992), and may act as an escape from distresses in life (Byrd et al. 2007). As a form of
ILM, intrinsic religious motivation in leisure promotes SWB by reducing stress (Maltby
and Day 2003,2004) and by improving a sense of self-actualization, self-acceptance, and a
freedom from guilt and worry (James and Wells 2003).
Autonomous motivation may be seen as another way of describing autonomy. When
individuals engage in activities willingly, out of their own volition and choice, they are
autonomously motivated. Research has found that well-being correlates more positively to
autonomous motivation in leisure (r=.34) than autonomous motivation in work (r=.27)
(Derous and Ryan 2008). Autonomous motivation is also measured using the term
autonomy-supportive contexts, in which well-being in women is enhanced in leisure-time
physical activity (Chatzisarantis and Hagger 2009; Lloyd and Little 2010) when they are
provided with a sense that they ‘‘can do their own thing’’ (Wearing 1998).
5.3 Mastery
Mastery experiences encompass activities that challenge individuals and provide learning
opportunities. Mastery is a distinct mechanism from autonomy in that mastery focuses on the
efforts put into honing one’s skills or achieving a new level of success in a leisure activity.
Whereas autonomy refers to the perception of individuality, choice, and freedom in leisure,
mastery describes the overcoming of challenges and betterment of skill in leisure activities.
The numerous references to flow (44 references) (Csikszentmihalyi 1990) and serious
leisure (14 references) (Stebbins 1992,1997) from our literature support the notion that
mastery is an essential mediating link to SWB. Csikszentmihalyi’s (1990) concept of flow
taps into the mastery experience, as individuals enter a state of flow by being engaged in an
activity that produces sufficient challenge. The appropriate balance of challenge and skill
enables an individual to enter a state of total absorption and concentration, ultimately
leading to optimal experience and well-being through the mechanism of mastery. This
balance of challenge and skill required of flow matches mastery in its relation to SWB in
leisure time activities. As yet another prominent model of leisure, serious leisure also
supports the importance of mastery. This model of leisure posits that serious involvement
of effort, skill, and commitment to a leisure activity leads to greater life satisfaction
(Stebbins 1992,1997). Stebbins argues that serious leisure promotes self-actualization,
self-enrichment, regeneration or renewal of the self, and a sense of accomplishment, which
are closely tied to mastery experiences.
Not only do the references to these theories support mastery as a mechanism, but
empirical research also provides evidence on mastery’s behalf. It has been found that
individuals who enter a state of flow during leisure activities report higher levels of
positive feelings (Pinquart and Silbereisen 2010). In line with this, a controlled and rigid
566 D. B. Newman et al.
engagement in leisure activities, termed obsessive passion, does not lead to higher levels of
SWB and is unrelated to flow (Stenseng et al. 2011). Although flow experiences occur
more frequently in work than leisure (Csikszentmihalyi and LeFevre 1989), mastery in
leisure activities nevertheless promotes SWB by providing individuals a sense of
accomplishment and flow experiences. Examples of these activities could include intel-
lectually stimulating tasks, such as playing chess or learning a foreign language, or
physical challenges, such as training for a marathon (Mojza et al. 2010). In addition,
individuals who engage in serious leisure show more successful aging (Brown et al. 2008).
Learning as a form of mastery has also been found to be related to SWB. Educational
classes taken during free time as a form of leisure stimulate cognitive processes, which in
turn promote positive feelings (Simone and Cesena 2010).
Overall, research has demonstrated that leisure activities that invoke mastery experi-
ences likely lead to higher SWB. A positive correlation of .22 has been found between
mastery experiences in leisure time and life satisfaction (Sonnentag and Fritz 2007).
Mastery experiences during vacation also predict lower levels of exhaustion after returning
to work (Fritz and Sonnentag 2006).
5.4 Meaning
Meaningful leisure activities, also referred to as meaning-making through leisure, are a
means by which individuals gain something important or valuable in life (Iwasaki 2008).
Examples such as running (Major 2001), quilting (King 2001), aboriginal dancing (Iwasaki
et al. 2006), volunteering, and storytelling (Wearing 1998) add meaning and purpose to
one’s life. Meaningful leisure activities reduce negative emotions while promoting positive
emotions and life satisfaction. More specifically, Baumeister and Vohs (2002) argue that
meaning-making remedies the bad and enhances the good.
Meaning is a vital mechanism in leisure to SWB due to the support and references to
serious leisure (14 references) (Stebbins 1992), flow (44 references) (Csikszentmihalyi
1990), activity theory (27 references) (Havighurst 1961), the selection, optimization, and
compensation theory (SOC) (7 references) (Baltes and Baltes 1990), and socioemotional
selectivity theory (4 references) (Carstensen 1992) found in the literature search. Meaning,
like mastery, is also promoted by serious leisure’s model, as meaningful engagement and
strong commitment are requisites of serious leisure. Activity theory (27 references) also
supports meaning as a mechanism mediating SWB in leisure, although not quite as directly
as affiliation. According to a traditional perspective of activity theory, the frequency of
participation in leisure and the level of intimacy predict SWB (Atchley 1977; Lemon et al.
1972; Rodrı
´guez et al. 2008; Sener et al. 2007), thus supporting affiliation. However,
according to a nuanced perspective of activity theory, engagement with life is essential for
healthy aging (Rowe and Kahn 1997). Engagement with life involves not only maintaining
close relationships but also remaining involved in productive activities that are meaningful
and purposeful, thus endorsing meaning as a vital link to SWB.
SOC theory argues that as individuals age, they must choose a select number of
meaningful activities in which to engage. Since older people can no longer participate in
the vast array of activities earlier in life, they must optimize leisure activities to find the
most meaning, which subsequently leads to SWB. Similarly, socioemotional selectivity
theory states that as people become aware of the diminishing amount of time left to live,
they seek out emotionally meaningful engagements and relationships. Individuals tend to
act in this manner to improve their general well-being, which implies that the meaningful
activities they seek at least partially account for the improved SWB. These theories do not
Leisure and SWB 567
exclusively apply to leisure activities, but their implications in leisure activities offer
compelling evidence that meaning in leisure promotes SWB.
Elsewhere in the literature on leisure and SWB, it has been shown that meaning
obtained from leisure appears to exert positive effects on well-being, cultural differences
notwithstanding (Iwasaki 2007). For example, in cultures worldwide, meaningful leisure
activities promote tranquility and peace of mind (Gong 1998; Yang 1998), affirm self-
worth and pride (Wearing 1998), facilitate growth and development (Mantero 2000), help
one cope in response to difficult life circumstances (Waters and Moore 2002), and enable
physical and social engagement (Silverstein and Parker 2002). More generally, meaningful
leisure activities foster a global sense of meaning of the individuals (Iwasaki et al. 2006).
In these meaningful leisure activities, people find positive emotions, which are the
‘markers of optimal well-being’’ (Fredrickson 2002, p. 120). Moreover, meaning in life
has even been regarded as an important component of well-being in itself (Ryff 1989).
Further, religious practices such as prayer or meditation serve as avenues for mean-
ingful leisure activities. Meditation promotes positive emotions, which in turn predict an
increase in life satisfaction and a decrease in depressive symptoms (Fredrickson et al.
2008). Indeed, a representative world poll across 153 nations revealed that meaning was an
important mediator between religious engagement and SWB (Diener et al. 2011).
5.5 Affiliation
Leisure activities can be solitary or social. We propose that social activities meet our
affiliative needs which produce higher SWB. The prominent theories discovered in the
literature that endorse affiliation as a mechanism promoting SWB include the following:
activity theory (27 references) (Havighurst 1961), disengagement theory (14 references)
(Cumming and Henry 1961), Maslow’s (1954) hierarchy of needs (12 references), SOC
theory (7 references) (Baltes and Baltes 1990), socioemotional selectivity theory (4 ref-
erences) (Carstensen 1992), the leisure and well-being model (2 references) (Carruthers
and Hood 2007), and need theory (2 references) (Diener and Lucas 2000). Affiliation, like
meaning, is endorsed as a link to SWB by activity theory since engagement with others as
one ages is necessary for SWB. In contrast to activity theory, disengagement theory
(7 references) argues that as individuals get older, they tend to withdraw from social
relationships, focusing instead on personal growth to improve SWB. Although these the-
ories disagree on how affiliation promotes well-being, the frequency of citations of both
theories supports the experience of affiliation as a mediator to SWB.
Maslow (1954) argues that the third rung of his hierarchy of needs termed love and
belongingness is an essential need of humans after physiological and safety needs are met.
The sense of belonging, a connection and affiliation to others, can be applied to leisure
time activities. SOC theory is founded on the assumption that affiliation is important as it
states that individuals must be selective in the relationships they choose as they age.
Likewise, socioemotional theory argues that adults prefer emotionally rewarding rela-
tionships as they age. The leisure and well-being model (Carruthers and Hood 2007) states
that interpersonal capacities that support social connectedness lead to satisfaction. Need
theory (Diener and Lucas 2000) proposes that the satisfaction of basic needs such as social
support and contact are prerequisites for SWB. The connecting link in each of these
theories supporting SWB is social affiliation. The general number of references suggests
that affiliation is likely a significant factor in promoting SWB.
Specific studies on leisure explain how affiliation accomplishes this task. Social leisure
activities build social relationships, encourage positive emotions and ultimately improve
568 D. B. Newman et al.
quality of life (Brajs
ˇganec et al. 2011; Rook 1987). On the other hand, social leisure
activities may inhibit negative emotions as they have been shown to decrease loneliness
(Caldwell and Smith 1988) and sadness (Boneham and Sixsmith 2006; Taylor et al. 2000)by
creating a shared experience among participants (Waters and Moore 2002). Moreover, social
leisure activities can foster social support (Coleman and Iso-Ahola 1993; Freysinger and
Flannery 1992; Son et al. 2010) which can produce higher levels of happiness as supporters
help regulate affect and thoughts through shared activities (Lakey and Orehek 2011).
Social affiliation may promote SWB indirectly because social activities form a basis for
social support, which affords resources that help buffer against stressful life events (An-
tonucci and Akiyama 1991; Cohen and Wills 1985). A caveat is that there is limited
evidence for the buffering hypothesis since social support has not been found to reduce the
effects of work stress on life and job dissatisfaction (Ganster et al. 1986). Indeed, a recent
comprehensive review on buffering effects for mental health shows inconsistent results
(see Lakey and Cronin 2008).
The social-solitary dimension in leisure activities categorizes various leisure activities
such as going to parties with friends or playing team sports as social while grouping other
leisure activities such as watching television or reading a book as solitary or nonsocial
(Lemon et al. 1972; Reitzes et al. 1995; Winefield et al. 1992). Social leisure activities
have been positively correlated with life satisfaction (Kelly et al. 1987) and happiness as
measured by the frequency of smiles (Reyes-Garcia et al. 2009). Trainor et al. (2010) found
that activities with other people correlated positively with life satisfaction (r=.22,
respectively). They also found a positive correlation between solitary activities and neg-
ative mood (r=.21) and a negative correlation between solitary activities and life satis-
faction (r=-.09). Further, low social activity during the weekend predicted lower well-
being after the weekend (Fritz and Sonnentag 2005). This strongly suggests that social
affiliation is an important experience for leisure on subjective well-being.
Among the five psychological mechanisms, social affiliation has the most support from
multiple theoretical perspectives. As seen in Table 2, affiliation was listed as a possible
mediator between leisure and SWB more times than any other psychological mechanism in
our subset of 100 articles. This suggests that social affiliation may be the strongest pre-
dictor, or perhaps the most consistent predictor of SWB, across various contexts.
According to a sample of 222 undergraduates, the happiest 10 % spent more time
socializing and had stronger social relationships than the others (Diener and Seligman
2002). Within leisure specifically, social contexts are vitally important in raising SWB as
warmth from friendships has been discovered as a primary process linking leisure activities
to SWB (Mitas 2010).
As a specific form of social affiliation in leisure, activities involving play can mediate
affiliation’s relation to SWB. Play is involved in many leisure activities (Sutton-Smith
1997), but it has been categorized as a social form of leisure (Burghardt 2005)asit
promotes social bonding in leisure activities such as bingo (Cousins and Witcher 2004) and
Red Hat Society gatherings, an organization of older women with the purpose of being
‘silly and goofy’’ (Yarnal et al. 2008). Not only does play develop social relationships
(Fagen 1981, p. 65), but it also raises self-esteem, boosts confidence in decision-making,
and increases openness to new experiences (Yarnal et al. 2008).
While research shows that social affiliation promotes SWB, it must be noted that the
people with whom one affiliates during leisure activities may influence the types of benefits
experienced. Leisure time with friends increases immediate well-being, while leisure time
with a spouse increases global well-being (Larson et al. 1986). Future research can further
examine the various types of relationships engaged in social leisure activities.
Leisure and SWB 569
6 Components of SWB
Each mechanism outlined above is argued to serve as a mediating link between various
forms of leisure activities and SWB, which is comprised of three distinct yet related
components. This review thus far has not differentiated the specific aspects of SWB that
these mechanisms (i.e., detachment-recovery, autonomy, mastery, meaning, and affilia-
tion [DRAMMA]) promote. This is mostly due to the fact that the literature on leisure
and well-being frequently conceptualizes SWB as a single component, or measures only
a specific facet, making it difficult to ascertain whether leisure promotes one aspect
(e.g., life satisfaction) over another (e.g., positive emotions). In our view, where more
positive psychological processes occur, we would expect greater SWB on the whole.
However, it is possible that different psychological experiences can also promote more
specific aspects of SWB although they tend to rise and fall together. For example, we
speculate that the fulfillment of basic needs in leisure such as having time for rest and
recovery will more likely enhance life satisfaction and diminish negative feelings. This
may be because individuals evaluate living and working standards when rating life
satisfaction. Having sufficient detachment and recovery during leisure would be a
critical component of life satisfaction. Further, not receiving sufficient detachment and
recovery likely triggers negative feelings, but receiving sufficient detachment and
recovery may not necessarily lead to increased positive feelings. Indeed, a study by Tay
and Diener (2011) using a representative world sample showed similar patterns whereby
life satisfaction and lessened negative feelings were tied to the fulfillment of basic needs
whereas positive feelings were tied to the fulfillment of higher order needs. Never-
theless, the researchers showed that needs have an additive effect, such that the ful-
fillment of psychological experiences were not substitutable and each contributed to all
components of SWB.
The relationship between leisure and specific aspects of SWB is further complicated due
to the two different manners in which leisure is defined: subjective and structural. We
propose that subjective aspects of leisure may be tied more with life satisfaction because
both tap on to an evaluative aspect, namely the degree to which one engages in leisure
(e.g., participation or frequency). Structural aspects of leisure will likely promote SWB
feelings. Kahneman et al.’s (2004) research using Day Reconstruction Method shows that
positive feelings were high and negative feelings were low for activities such as social-
izing, eating, relaxing, and watching TV, whereas opposite trends were found for working
and commuting. For both subjective and structural aspects of leisure, where more positive
psychological processes occur (i.e., DRAMMA), we would expect greater SWB on the
corresponding aspects of both leisure and life (i.e., structural leisure promotes positive
feelings in leisure and life while diminishing negative feelings in leisure and life, whereas
subjective leisure promotes leisure and life satisfaction).
These proposals need to be tempered with the fact that SWB components are often
measured using different time frames. Life satisfaction is generally measured using a long
time frame (e.g., 10 years) whereas positive feelings and negative feelings are measured
using short time frames (e.g., 2 weeks or yesterday) (e.g., Luhmann et al. 2012). Therefore,
when psychological experiences (or leisure components) and components of SWB are
measured using the same time frames, we would likely see a stronger association due to a
method effect. Future research can examine the extent to which structural and subjective
leisure is linked to different components of SWB.
570 D. B. Newman et al.
7 Implications
The theoretical model merges and incorporates a large number of theories, models, and
frameworks to describe the psychological mechanisms that underpin SWB. These mech-
anisms encompass and succinctly summarize the multiplicity of theories found in the
literature. This allows for a clearer conceptual understanding of how SWB relates to
leisure. While individual theories relating to leisure and SWB have provided the necessary
data to build this model, an individual theory or model may not encapsulate other elements
for a broad account.
The theoretical model suggests that leisure activities or participation trigger certain
psychological mechanisms. For example, the various leisure activities occurring outside of
work time in many studies by Sonnentag and colleagues (e.g., Mojza et al. 2010; Son-
nentag 2001; Sonnentag and Bayer 2005; Sonnentag and Fritz 2007; Zijlstra and Sonnentag
2006) trigger the detachment-relaxation mechanism, referred to in these studies by the
effort-recovery model (Meijman and Mulder 1998) and the conservation of resources
theory (Hobfoll 1989). Through the use of this model, we are able to look at the different
psychological pathways by which leisure affects SWB.
The theoretical model explains why certain leisure activities promote SWB more than
others. Leisure activities that fulfill multiple psychological needs, such as playing sports
with friends (affiliation, mastery, and detachment-relaxation), would likely promote SWB
more than leisure activities that fulfill only one mechanism, such as watching television
(detachment-relaxation). Similarly, creating a photo notebook to capture memories as a
leisure activity might promote life satisfaction, whereas writing a blog might also promote
life satisfaction though through autonomy and mastery. Potential psychological mecha-
nisms activated during tourist trips, such as affiliation, detachment-recovery, and auton-
omy, might explain the peak in mood levels that occur mid-way through tourist vacations
(e.g., Mitas 2010; Nawijn 2010). Additionally, certain subpopulations might benefit more
from certain leisure activities than others groups due to specific psychological needs. Older
adults may experience greater SWB in leisure activities that fulfill the psychological
experience of meaning. Similarly, working adults engaged in leisure activities that fulfill
the need for detachment-relaxation may experience the greatest improvement in SWB;
children may benefit the most from leisure activities involving social affiliation. Future
research needs to examine the relation between age, leisure participation, and SWB
ˇganec et al. 2011).
While not specified in the theoretical model, we also propose that individual differences
may moderate the relation between leisure and SWB. Certain individuals may react more
positively to certain psychological experiences, resulting in greater increases in SWB. In a
related area of research, the act of performing certain happiness-enhancing strategies,
which fit well with one’s personality, goals, and interests, such as expressing gratitude or
optimism, leads to greater levels of positive feelings following the happiness-enhancing
activity (Sheldon and Lyubomirsky 2006). Similar results may be found in future research
in leisure studies if the psychological experiences are studied in relation to the compati-
bility with one’s personality, goals, and interests. In fact, when self-congruent variables in
respect to a specific culture are met in leisure, it can potentially raise one’s well-being
above the set-point (Spiers and Walker 2009), similar to the way a happiness enhancing
strategy can boost one’s happiness in the short term. Finding self-congruent variables in
leisure has the added benefit that individuals are much more likely to naturally engage in
leisure activities than happiness-enhancing strategies. Therefore, finding leisure activities
Leisure and SWB 571
that match individual’s preferred psychological mechanisms could raise subjective well-
being long term.
8 Future Research
Most leisure research on SWB has been cross-sectional and correlational without mea-
suring the specific causes of SWB during leisure time activities. Experimental studies
aimed at isolating particular psychological mechanisms can delineate the strengths of
various experiences. For example, although participation in team sports has been linked to
high levels of life satisfaction in youth (Poulsen et al. 2006), explanations of this associ-
ation has been speculative. Likewise, while leisure can have a great influence on the well-
being of caregivers (Losada et al. 2010), the pathways supporting this has not been fully
explicated. Experimental studies that separate psychological experiences such as mastery
and affiliation will clarify how and why overall SWB increases after such leisure activities.
Longitudinal, developmental, and cross-cultural studies can either generalize the effects
of certain experiences in leisure activities on SWB or indicate where cultures or various
populations differ. This helps future research by specifying which psychological experi-
ences are responsible for differences in cultures or subpopulations.
Furthermore, future research testing the theoretical model may provide new insight into
the balance of work and leisure. Certain types of leisure might mesh well together with
certain types of work. If one experiences high levels of autonomy at work, SWB may be
increased to a greater extent if other experiences in leisure are utilized as research shows
that the fulfillment of different needs are not substitutable in the promotion of SWB (Tay
and Diener 2011). Alternatively, if certain psychological experiences are lacking at work,
it might be beneficial to seek out leisure experiences that engage these very psychological
experiences. The specific psychological mechanisms involved in work may also vary on
the type of employment and it may behoove researchers to measure type of employment in
relation to psychological mechanisms. Future research testing the interface of work and
leisure will benefit by considering the psychological experiences outlined above.
Because our interest focuses on how leisure enhances SWB, we used a bottom-up
perspective to underscore how leisure experiences cumulatively impacts general SWB via
the DRAMMA psychological mechanisms. Although the proposed model is effective for
our purposes, there are other causal processes between the constructs that were not
emphasized. First, general SWB may affect the choice of leisure activity and perceived
leisure engagement; that is, structural and subjective leisure, respectively. For example,
individuals with higher levels of SWB tend to be more sociable (Diener and Tay 2012) and
so may seek out social leisure activities, or may focus on positive aspects and perceive
themselves as having more leisure than expected. Second, a top-down perspective states
that general SWB affects the degree to which one is satisfied with leisure. Uplifts in mood
and well-being accumulated over time may enhance global SWB that can color how
individuals subsequently perceive the leisure domain.
9 Conclusion
Leisure is a key domain in life and can influence SWB in a positive manner. In certain
studies, leisure activities and recreation satisfaction have even been shown to be greater
predictors of life satisfaction and quality of life than sex, education, religiosity, marital
572 D. B. Newman et al.
status, age, health, employment status, and income (Riddick 1985; Russell 1990). How-
ever, increased amounts of leisure do not result in improved well-being across all demo-
graphics (e.g., the poor and elderly) (Cho et al. 2009). In fact, how and why leisure
influences SWB has not been studied extensively in positive psychology (Diener and
Biswas-Diener 2008).
We propose an integrative model based on past research that would be fruitful for future
studies of the leisure-SWB association. We operationally define leisure in structural and
subjective terms and propose five key psychological mechanisms based on theory:
DRAMMA. These mechanisms promote SWB in leisure, which subsequently promote
general SWB, integrated as part of a bottom-up theory of SWB. Nevertheless, more
questions remain in the study of leisure and SWB. We hope that this framework can serve
as a crucial platform for building future knowledge on leisure and SWB.
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... Life satisfaction is a cognitive and global assessment of one's overall quality of life. In particular, there are numerous variables that influence life satisfaction, including sociodemographic factors like health, job, household, family, age, gender, psychological characteristics, lifestyle, leisure activity involvement, and leisure enjoyment (Rojas, 2006;Agyar, 2013;Magee et al., 2013;Moksnes and Espnes, 2013;Loewe et al., 2014;Newman et al., 2014;Kuykendall et al., 2015). ...
... Life satisfaction is not a straightforward average of domain satisfaction as people assess each domain differently. While some people consider leisure to be the most essential aspect of their lives, others prioritize job or health (Diener et al., 2003;Newman et al., 2014). Satisfaction with domains that are consistent with one's values has been demonstrated to be more essential for one's overall satisfaction (Oishi et al., 1999). ...
... Instead, an integrated view that incorporates both models might be the most effective. Despite the fact that both theories are sometimes represented as opposing models (Loewe et al., 2014), there have been various attempts to combine the bottom-up and top-down theories in a single integrated model (Feist et al., 1995;Heller et al., 2004;Newman et al., 2014;Busseri, 2015;Lachmann et al., 2017). In particular, Frontiers in Psychology 03 ...
Full-text available
A substantial amount of research has been conducted using a variety of methodological approaches to determine what influences life satisfaction. The bottom-up theory considers overall life satisfaction as a function of various areas of life satisfaction, whereas the top-down theory considers the areas of life satisfaction as a function of dispositional factors such as personality. We examined these models in a large-scale United Kingdom survey. Consistent with other studies, we found that both the bottom-up and top-down models of life satisfaction are supported in the United Kingdom by demonstrating that demographics, areas of life satsifaction, and personality traits can explain a significant portion of variances in overall areas of life satisfaction. We propose that future studies in life satisfaction research should consider the integrated account of life satisfaction rather than a unitary bottom-up or top-down perspective.
... Leisure activities can enable individuals to recover from fatigue and gain benefits (Kim & Lee, 2018). Previous studies have found that leisure activities are beneficial to improving life satisfaction (Newman et al., 2014), which is a long-term assessment of an individuals overall satisfaction in life (Diener, 2009). Life satisfaction was shown to increase with individuals' participation in interest activities (e.g. ...
... However, these factors do not indicate an individuals overall quality of life, as life satisfaction is also affected by daily life activities, such as engaging in constructive or fun activities that can make people feel happy (Cho, 2020;De Vos, 2019). Participation in leisure activities (particularly, serious leisure activities, such as pet-keeping) can fulfil these personal psychological needs and promote life satisfaction (Kahneman et al., 2004;Newman et al., 2014;Sato et al., 2016). Therefore, this study explores the relationship between life satisfaction and pet keeping as a leisure activity. ...
... An individuals physiological needs have an impact on the areas of both work and non-work life satisfactions, and engagement in leisure activities can satisfy personal psychological needs. That is, leisure can promote personal life satisfaction (Heo et al., 2013;Newman et al., 2014), and those who are enthusiasts of serious leisure perceive higher life satisfaction than non-enthusiasts (Liu & Yu, 2015). Therefore, we propose the following hypotheses: The mediating role of serious leisure A stronger pet attachment increases an individuals motivation to care for the pet as it is a commitment which involves some degree of emotional attachment to the individuals role, goal and values (Buchanan, 1974). ...
Multispecies leisure has recently become an area of attention. Pet-keeping is one of the popular leisure activities today. This study aims to explore the relationship between pet attachment and life satisfaction, with particular focus on the mediating effect of the leisure seriousness and rewards on the relationship mentioned above. A total of 275 responses were collected at a pet exhibition. SEM and SPSS were employed for data analysis. The results revealed that pet attachment is positively related to pet owners’ life satisfaction. The effects of leisure seriousness, personal reward, and social reward were shown to mediate the relationship between pet attachment and life satisfaction. The pet-keeping practices during the COVID-19 pandemic are provided based the serious leisure perspective.
... Therefore, the present study is an extension of the study of (Huang et al. 2019), who, by combining bottom-up and top-down theories of well-being, filled a research gap supported by Diener (1984). Researchers added autonomy as an interpersonal factor and investigated the relationship between experience and well-being as outcomes, and suggested further (Howell and Hill 2009;Newman et al. 2014) that the study may be conducted by considering the mediation role of various factors, such as satisfaction or demographical factors/interpersonal factors, etc. Therefore, the present study shall fill the gap by studying the interrelationship between travel autonomy and experience of loyalty through the mediation of life satisfaction and well-being that the previous researchers did not consider. ...
... With the increase in global travel, tourists now focus on such tourism services or products which may create enjoyment, lifetime memory, a reasonable involvement of tourists, and hence "experience economy", which has now become a growing consideration for hospitality and tourism researchers (Oh et al. 2007;Pine and Gilmore 1999;Quadri-Felitti and Fiore 2013). Concerning the same experience in an economic context, it has also been revealed that the empirical aspect of hospitality and tourism service can be assumed to be a significant factor in attaining customer loyalty, subjective well-being, and positive emotion (Gilbert and Abdullah 2004;Knobloch et al. 2017;Newman et al. 2014). As per top-down and bottom-up well-being theories' outcomes (Diener 1984), the results of experience drive customers to hold the well-being perception significant during decision-making regarding hospitality/tourism products and services Gilbert and Abdullah 2004;Uysal et al. 2016); it has also been observed that tourists' travel experience can impact the positive sentiments of life and its overall satisfaction, referring to the well-being of the tourist context. ...
... As autonomy plays a significant part in influencing the spa wellness experience (Thal and Hudson 2017), thus, to cater to the needs of tourists, spa and wellness managers should provide a wide variety of services and specialized spa programs, such as aromatherapy services, meditation courses, and yoga; this will stimulate tourists' positive emotions, satisfy their lives, and create an intention to revisit and recommend (Baloglu et al. 2019;McNeil and Ragins 2005). Furthermore, spa and wellness managers should provide more comprehensive options for participating in leisure activities; it activates the psychological mechanism of autonomy, which leads to positive emotions and life satisfaction (Newman et al. 2014). Tourists tend to participate in wellness spa activities, spa managers should thus take care of the psychological need for autonomy in well-being services and product design (Carruthers and Hood 2007;Goulimaris et al. 2014). ...
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The present research aims to determine the relationship between the construct of autonomy, intrinsic motivation, and tourist experience, as well as loyalty in the context of wellness and spa tourism. The exploratory–descriptive design was adopted in the present research. A research instrument was developed based on previous literature and was tested for a pilot study to check validity and reliability. A purposive sampling technique was used to collect the data from tourists who have gained spa experience. A total of 264 usable responses were received after distributing 400 questionnaires. The data were screened, processed, and analyzed using the SPSS 22.0 and Smart-PLS 2.0. The investigation showed that intrinsic motivation, autonomy, and experience positively impact positive emotions and life satisfaction. Besides, it also supported that positive emotions, experience, and life Satisfaction lead to loyalty. Furthermore, the present study tested the mediating role of experience, positive emotions, and life satisfaction; it was also found that experience mediates the relationship between autonomy, positive emotions, and life satisfaction. Positive emotions and life satisfaction were mediators in the relationship between experience and loyalty. Finally, the findings showed that destination images moderated the relationship between experience, positive emotions, and life satisfaction. The results of this investigation can be helpful for both the research community and marketers interested in investigating the well-being of tourists and destination loyalty.
... at is, this theory focuses on social activities and life satisfaction and does not consider nonsocial activities or the a ective component of SWB (positive and NA) as an outcome. A di erent conceptual framework, referred to as the D MMA model, elaborates on how leisure engagement is linked to SWB through ve core psychological mechanisms (Newman et al., 2014). e model assumes that increased leisure activity is associated with more detachment-recovery (DR), autonomy (A), mastery (M), meaning (M), and a liation (A) which, in turn, contribute to be er well-being. ...
... Various psychological mechanisms may explain the positive relationship between active time use and SWB. In their D MMA model, Newman et al. (2014) postulated that leisure engagement increases global SWB through detachment-recovery, autonomy, mastery, meaning, and a liation. Because a more active time use involves engaging in a broader range of activities, multiple mechanisms can increase SWB. ...
Active time use is considered to be one of the keys to successful aging. Previous studies have investigated the influence of various activities on subjective well-being (SWB) and health in later life. As different activities have often been investigated in isolation, showing only minor influences of each activity on well-being, a more global measure of active time use might show a stronger relation to well-being. Moreover, empirical evidence is still insufficient regarding the relationship between active time use and SWB in very old age and regarding the impact of socioeconomic factors that can hinder or promote active time use. Therefore, we examined (1) the association between active time use and SWB using information from the day reconstruction method (DRM) as a more global approach to active time use; (2) the association between active time use and SWB until very old age, and (3) income and education as relevant correlates for active time use. The results indicated that a global measure of active time use was associated with higher levels of SWB. This pattern was present until very old age for several dimensions of negative affect (NA). Finally, higher levels of income and education were associated with a higher level of active time use, potentially pointing at contextual constraints of active time use. In sum, the results show that a global index for measuring active time use provides a comprehensive insight into the relationship between time use and SWB, and we suggest that it should be considered in further studies.
... Fourth, we restructured the data such that well-being assessments preceded leisure 542 activity assessments (retrospective order) to ensure that we did not underestimate within-543 person relations due to our choice of temporal ordering. 9 544 Fifth, we investigated leisure satisfaction as an additional dependent variable, given 545 that it should be more directly influenced by leisure activities and might mediate effects of 546 leisure on global well-being (Newman et al., 2014;Kuykendall et al., 2015). 547 ...
... Relatedly, leisure activities may have stronger effects on domain-specific well-being such as 1038 leisure satisfaction, which may mediate effects on global well-being (e.g., Newman et al., 1039Newman et al., 2014Kuykendall et al., 2015). In line with this, within-person associations were 1040 substantially larger when using leisure satisfaction as the dependent variable. ...
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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.
... Serious leisure can provide an appropriate balance of skill and challenge which is more likely to invoke a mastery experience. This appropriate balance enables an individual to enter into a state of flow leading to optimal experience and well-being (Newman et al., 2013). Flow is the experience of total absorption and enjoyment during an activity (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). ...
Relationships and belonging are fundamental needs for well-being. At the same time, our culture is becoming increasingly individualistic and loneliness is pervasive. Our traditional community and relational frameworks, such as religious institutions and associations, are also diminishing. This capstone explores leisure as a possible pathway for building social capital and community well-being. We will look at why leisure activities based in recreation, play and the humanities have the capacity to build community and enduring connections with others, while also having individual well-being benefits. This capstone features some exemplary groups that utilize leisure activities and have built strong communities through positive psychology constructs such as hive psychology, self-efficacy, collective effervescence, mattering, resilience and belonging. We will explore opportunities to overlap the fields of positive psychology and leisure in both research and application. We will remind ourselves that joy and belonging are powerful forces and even more powerful when they come together.
Erholung von der Arbeit ist wichtig für die Aufrechterhaltung von Wohlbefinden, Gesundheit und Leistungsfähigkeit von Beschäftigten. Erholung wird als Prozess verstanden, der dem Stressprozess entgegenwirkt, indem Stressfolgen neutralisiert und verbrauchte Ressourcen wiederaufgebaut werden. Erholung kann sowohl während des Arbeitstages in Arbeitspausen wie auch außerhalb der Arbeit am Feierabend, am Wochenende oder im Urlaub stattfinden. In diesem Kapitel unterscheiden wir zwischen direkten und indirekten Interventionsansätzen zur Förderung von Erholungsprozessen. Direkte Interventionen verfolgen das primäre Ziel Erholungsprozesse zu fördern, indem sie beispielsweise an den sogenannten Erholungserfahrungen ansetzen. Indirekte Interventionen fördern Erholungsprozesse ebenfalls, auch wenn sie primär ein anderes Ziel (z. B. Steigerung von Achtsamkeit, Förderung einer stärkeren Grenzziehung zwischen Arbeit und Privatleben) verfolgen. Bei den indirekten Interventionsansätzen werden wir insbesondere auf Achtsamkeitsinterventionen eingehen, die die absichtsvolle und nicht-wertende Lenkung der Aufmerksamkeit auf den aktuellen Moment fördern. Innerhalb der direkten wie auch indirekten Interventionsansätze werden Interventionen zur Förderung von Erholung während sowie außerhalb der Arbeit bezüglich ihrer Effektivität dargestellt.
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Shaping off-job life is becoming increasingly important for workers to increase and maintain their optimal functioning (i.e., feeling and performing well). Proactively shaping the job domain (referred to as job crafting) has been extensively studied, but crafting in the off-job domain has received markedly less research attention. Based on the Integrative Needs Model of Crafting, needs-based off-job crafting is defined as workers’ proactive and self-initiated changes in their off-job lives, which target psychological needs satisfaction. Off-job crafting is posited as a possible means for workers to fulfill their needs and enhance well-being and performance over time. We developed a new scale to measure off-job crafting and examined its relationships to optimal functioning in different work contexts in different regions around the world (the United States, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Finland, Japan, and the United Kingdom). Furthermore, we examined the criterion, convergent, incremental, discriminant, and structural validity evidence of the Needs-based Off-job Crafting Scale using multiple methods (longitudinal and cross-sectional survey studies, an “example generation”-task). The results showed that off-job crafting was related to optimal functioning over time, especially in the off-job domain but also in the job domain. Moreover, the novel off-job crafting scale had good convergent and discriminant validity, internal consistency, and test–retest reliability. To conclude, our series of studies in various countries show that off-job crafting can enhance optimal functioning in different life domains and support people in performing their duties sustainably. Therefore, shaping off-job life may be beneficial in an intensified and continually changing and challenging working life.
Technological development, especially Internet discovery, caused changes in the conceptualization of leisure time, its organization, and related experiences. Although numerous studies point out the importance of leisure activities for the quality of life in people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), their socio-emotional cognition, reduction of inappropriate behaviors, and mental health, they are still less likely to participate in leisure activities. The most common reasons include the lack of a repertoire of leisure skills, the characteristics of autism, and environmental factors. On the other hand, analyses of preferred leisure activities of children and adults with ASD showed that the following activities are highly valued among these participants regardless of age—watching TV and DVDs, playing video games, and listening to music. Although these people enjoy these technology-based activities for several hours a day, some still lack specific digital skills to successfully and independently take individual steps within their favorite activity. Thus, this chapter presents research papers on strengthening digital leisure skills for surfing the Internet, playing video games, and digital photography, as well as research studies in which digital activity schedules, video modeling, and video prompting were used to teach different leisure skills.KeywordsActivity scheduleAutismDigital skillsLeisure skillsVideo modeling
This paper reviews the literature on the social context of health to identify the ways in which leisure might contribute to health. Considerable evidence has demonstrated that stressful life circumstances induce physical and mental illnesses. However, this impact has been shown to be moderated by various coping processes including leisure participation. The paper argues that leisure participation facilitates coping with life stress in two ways. First, one of the most effective sources of relief from life stress has been shown to be the perception that social support is available. Leisure has been demonstrated to be highly social in nature and to facilitate development of friendships. Companionship in shared leisure activity appears to provide effective relief for people as they deal with excesses of daily life stresses. In addition, many leisure experiences have the capacity to provide feelings of support. Second, dispositions reflecting self-determination (e.g. hardiness, locus of control) have also been shown to contribute to people's coping capacities and health. Perceptions of freedom, control, competence and intrinsic motivation that are central to many leisure experiences are believed to induce these stable beliefs in self-determination.