Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

The Effects of Ethnicity and Gender on Facilitating Intrinsic Motivation during Leisure with a Close Friend

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

The Effects of Ethnicity and Gender on Facilitating Intrinsic Motivation during Leisure with a Close Friend

Article excerpt


"Extrinsic motivation refers to the performance of an activity in order to attain some separable outcome and, thus, contrasts with intrinsic motivation, which refers to doing an activity for the inherent satisfaction of the activity itself" (Ryan & Deci, 2000, p. 71). Because intrinsic motivation is relatively common during leisure (Graef, Csikszentmihalyi, & Gianinno, 1983), it has been incorporated into numerous leisure theories (Iso-Ahola, 1999; Kelly, 1978; Neulinger, 1981). Russell (2002), in fact, stated that it is this intrinsic quality "that makes leisure unique among all other human experiences" (p. 46).

Russell's (2002) statement is notable not only because she held that intrinsic motivation is leisure's quintessence, but also because she presumed that leisure and intrinsic motivation were panhuman. Chick (1998) too has posited that leisure is universal; and there is some support for this proposition. Research by Tsai and Coleman (2007) and Walker and Wang (in press) has shown, for example, that intrinsic motivation is an important aspect of, respectively, Chinese and Chinese/Canadian people's leisure.

Even if intrinsic motivation is eventually found to be commonplace in all cultures' leisure, current research suggests that the factors that foster it may vary across cultures. For example, Deci and Ryan's (2000) self-determination theory (SDT) holds that "intrinsic motivation will be facilitated by conditions that conduce toward psychological need satisfaction, whereas undermining of intrinsic motivation will result when conditions tend to thwart need satisfaction" (p. 233). SDT asserts that three innate needs must be satisfied if people are to maintain psychological and emotional well-being: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. After a review of cross-cultural psychological research, however, Walker, Deng, and Dieser (2005) posited that, as SDT holds, autonomy/choice and competence may facilitate intrinsic motivation more for certain ethnic groups (e.g., British/Canadians) during their leisure, whereas relatedness, effort, and role fulfillment may facilitate intrinsic motivation more for certain other ethnic groups (e.g., Chinese/Canadians) during their leisure. Empirical testing of Walker et al.'s (2005) proposition is the primary objective of this study; however, because other socio-dcmographic and situational variables could also influence the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, a secondary objective is to determine what role gender, alone and in combination with ethnicity, plays during leisure with a close friend.

Literature Review

Intrinsic Motivation and Chinese People

According to Deci and Ryan (1985), the emotions of interest and enjoyment are integrally related to intrinsic motivation. Interest and enjoyment, along with surprise, distress, anger, disgust, contempt, fear, guilt, and shame/shyness, are often deemed basic emotions (Izard, 1977). Two reasons for interest being panhuman have been put forth (Silvia, 2006). First, Izard and Ackerman (2000) held that "interest motivates exploration and learning, and guarantees the person's engagement in the environment. Survival and adaptation require such engagement" (p. 257). Second, Fredrickson (2001) contended that interest serves not only short- but also long-term developmental goals, as it motivates people to "broaden-and-build" their experiences; and doing so can prove beneficial when unforeseen events occur. Enjoyment, in contrast with interest, serves as a rewarding rather than a motivating function (Silvia, 2006).

Research supports these emotions' relevance for Chinese people, with Russell and Yik (1996) finding that interest demonstrated Chinese/English equivalence in multiple linguistic studies. The role of interest in Chinese people's leisure has also been supported. Tsai and Coleman (2007) found, for example, that Hong Kong Chinese undergraduates reported being less interested, overall, in a variety of leisure activities compared with Australian students. …

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