Measuring Leisure Motivation: A Meta-Analysis of the Recreation Experience Preference Scales

Article excerpt


A topic of central concern in leisure research is the motivations for leisure. This is a key area because it helps determine why people engage in leisure behavior in the manner they do, and it assists in understanding the consequences of leisure engagements. Of more immediate importance, information about motivations for leisure can help practitioners develop programs that have the greatest likelihood of minimizing conflicts between users and of yielding human benefits. One line of leisure motivational research, known as the "experiential approach," was introduced in the late '60s by Driver and Tocher (1970) and was extended in a number of subsequent studies (Driver & Brown, 1975; Driver & Knopf, 1977; Haas, Driver, & Brown, 1980; Knopf, Driver, & Bassett, 1973; Manfredo, Driver, & Brown, 1983). The experiential approach suggested that recreation should not be viewed merely as an activity such as hiking, fishing, camping, etc. Instead, recreation should be conceptualized as a psychophysiological experience that is self-rewarding, occurs during nonobligated free time, and is the result of free choice.

A central focus of this research has been development of psychometric scaling that could be used to measure the dimensions of people's recreation experience. These have become known as the Recreation Experience Preference (REP) scales (Driver, 1977, 1983). In this paper, we provide summary analysis of research used in REP scale development. Following meta-analysis procedures, we examined results from 36 different studies that used the experience preference items. Our intent was to present an item bank useful for application in future studies that examine the basis of leisure.

Theoretical Background

The REP scales were developed within the context of motivation theory. Early conceptualization (Driver & Tocher, 1970; Knopf et al., 1973) suggested that recreation activities are behavioral pursuits that are instrumental to attaining certain psychological and physical goals. According to this view, people pursue engagement in recreation when a problem state exists; when an existing state does not match a preferred state (Knopf et al., 1973). For example, stress caused by a person overloaded with day-to-day responsibilities might motivate that individual to choose to go fishing (a recreation behavioral pursuit) because it is instrumental in attaining temporary escape from stress and therefore fulfills a motivating force (Knopf et al., 1973; Manfredo, 1984; Wellman, 1979).

Following this theoretical framework, the recreation experience was defined from a psychological perspective as the "package" or "bundle" of psychological outcomes desired from a recreation engagement (Driver, 1976; Driver & Brown, 1975; Driver & Knopf, 1976). The experience holds the explanation of why people engage in recreation, gives guidance in understanding what people want from recreation, and offers insight into how it might benefit them.

Research in the mid-1970s was guided by a strong interest in demonstrating the managerial relevance of psychological outcomes. The focus of research was to understand how basic motivation constructs (psychological outcomes) influence people's choice of activities and settings. Improved understanding of this relationship would assist in clarifying the "product" that recreationists seek. It was argued that this information could be used in a wide array of planning and management tasks such as clarifying supply and demand, developing management objectives, avoiding conflict, and identifying recreation substitutes.

Much of the research that explored the psychological outcomes-setting-activity relationship was guided by expectancy-valence motivation concepts introduced by Lawler (1973). Lawler proposed that behavior in the work place is a function of both ability and motivation. Motivation was viewed as a hierarchy of instrumental and terminal expectations. …