Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

The Role of Self-Construal as an Intervening Variable between Culture and Leisure Constraints: A Comparison of Canadian and Mainland Chinese University Students

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

The Role of Self-Construal as an Intervening Variable between Culture and Leisure Constraints: A Comparison of Canadian and Mainland Chinese University Students

Article excerpt

Introduction

Although "leisure constraints research is now well-established as a recognizable and distinct sub-field within leisure studies" (Jackson, 2005, p. 10), serious knowledge gaps remain. Crawford and Jackson (2005), for example, contended that little research has been conducted on intrapersonal constraints (i.e., individual psychological qualities that affect the formation of leisure preferences) and interpersonal constraints (i.e., social factors that affect the formation of leisure preferences) compared with structural constraints (i.e., factors that occur after leisure preferences are formed but before actual leisure participation takes place; Crawford & Godbey, 1987). Similarly, there has been little research on how constraints may be similar or different across cultures. Shaw and Henderson (2005) stated that, "research involving people of different cultural backgrounds would greatly enhance the constraints literature" (p. 31), and Chick and Dong (2005) argued that, "the disregard of culture as an independent variable in the study of leisure constraints is itself highly constraining" (p. 179).

In response to these concerns, Walker, Jackson, and Deng (2007) conducted a study of Canadian and Mainland Chinese university students' constraints on starting a new leisure activity. Of the 10 intrapersonal constraints they examined 9 differed significantly, with Chinese students being more intrapersonally constrained than Canadians in all but one instance. A single combined measure of intrapersonal constraints was also compared with similar indices for interpersonal and structural constraints. All three constraints categories differed significantly, with Chinese students being more intra- and interpersonally constrained, whereas Canadian students were more structurally constrained.

Valentine, Allison, and Schneider (1999) believed there are many benefits that can be derived from conducting such research, including the "op portunity to test and validate the generalizability of leisure phenomenon and constructs" (p. 242). Although we agree with Valentine et al., we are also cognizant of Hutchison's (2000) call to include intervening variables when conducting research of this kind. Walker, Deng, and Dieser (2005) provided an in-depth discussion of how one intervening variable-self-construalcould contribute to our understanding of the relationship between macrolevel structures and micro-level processes. Self-construal refers to how people think about themselves in relation to others (Walker, 2007a). According to Markus and Kitayama (1991), whereas people in the United States and Canada (or, more accurately, European Americans and European Canadians) , as well as people in Western Europe, are more likely to have independent self-construals (and, therefore, value being unique, asserting oneself, expressing one's inner attributes, and promoting one's own goals), people in or from Asia, Africa, and Southern Europe are more likely to have interdependent self-construals (and, therefore, value belonging, fitting in, maintaining harmony, restraining oneself, and promoting others' goals). Markus and Kitayama posited that the type of self-construal a person has affects his or her cognitions, emotions, and motivations and, based on this proposition, Walker and Virden (2005) believed that the same effect may hold true for how he or she conceives of, and is affected by, intrapersonal constraints and possibly interpersonal and structural constraints as well. Thus, the purpose of this study is to build upon Walker's et al. (2007) article by exploring how the self-construals of Canadian university students in Canada and Chinese university students in Mainland China influence their perception of how intrapersonal, interpersonal, and structural constraints affect starting a new leisure activity.

Literature Review

According to Chick and Dong (2005), culture is logically prior to intrapersonal, interpersonal, and most structural leisure constraints (p. …

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