Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Ideal Affect, Actual Affect, and Affect Discrepancy during Leisure and Paid Work

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Ideal Affect, Actual Affect, and Affect Discrepancy during Leisure and Paid Work

Article excerpt

Numerous studies have demonstrated that affect is an important dimension of leisure experiences (e.g., Hull, 1990; Hull, Michael, Walker, & Roggenbuck, 1996; Kleiber, 2000; Kleiber, Walker, & Mannell, 2011; Lee, Dattilo, & Howard, 1994; Shaw, 1985). To date, however, little research has been conducted in the leisure studies field on how this compares with other life domains. One of the few exceptions is a study (Kelly & Kelly, 1994) of leisure, paid work, and family/community that compared these three domains on eight dimensions of meaning. Two of these dimensions measured affective properties. Analyses indicated that, in terms of disengagement (e.g., 1 can rest and relax), leisure bested family/community which in turn surpassed paid work. In terms of experience/involvement (e.g., 1 am often bored, reverse coded), family/ community bested leisure which in turn surpassed paid work. The authors concluded that this type of investigation could offer new perspectives on fundamental issues, though they were also quick to add that "such 'ultimate questions' are not fashionable in current social and behavioral science research, but may be important to people. Such issues should not be left entirely to the speculation of those with no empirical grounding for their research" (p. 272).

Kelly and Kelly's (1994) comments presage the positive psychology platform put forward by Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi (2000), who wrote six years later that: "the social and behavioral sciences can....articulate a vision of the good life that is empirically sound while being understandable and attractive" (p. 5). Support for their proposition was bolstered by the inclusion of 15 articles written by, among others: Ryan and Deci (2000) on self-determination theory, Massimini and Delle Fave (2000) on optimal experience, and, of particular importance for this study, Diener (2000) on subjective well-being.

Subjective well-being has three distinct components, each of which can be considered at a global level (i.e., life satisfaction, positive affect, negative affect), or at a domain level (e.g., leisure satisfaction, leisure positive affect, leisure negative affect; work satisfaction, work positive affect, work negative affect), or both (Diener, Suh, Lucas, & Smith, 1999; Newman, Tay, 8c Diener, 2013). Positive psychologists, and social scientists more broadly, typically focus on people's actual affective state. But Tsai, Knutson, and Fung's (2006) research indicated that people's preferred or "ideal" affective state was also important, in part because the "discrepancies" between the two influenced individuals' behavior and experiences-with a follow-up study (Tsai, 2007) finding this was especially true in terms of the leisure domain. Based on the above, therefore, three primary research questions are proposed:

RQ1. Are there significant discrepancies between the affective state an individual ideally wants to feel and the affective state the same person actually feels during leisure?

RQ2. Are there significant discrepancies between the affective state an individual ideally wants to feel and the affective state the same person actually feels during paid work?

RQ3. Are the discrepancies between what an individual ideally wants to feel and what she or he actually feels during leisure (i.e., RQ1) significantly different from the discrepancies the same person has between what he or she ideally wants to feel and what she or he actually feels during paid work (i.e., RQ2)?

Finally, some evidence indicates affective states may differ in frequency, intensity, and regulation strategies used, by gender (Chentsova-Dutton & Tsai, 2007; Kring & Gordon, 1998; Davis, Greenberger, Charles, Chen, Zhao, & Dong, 2012). Consequently, gender could also potentially influence relationships between and among ideal affect, actual affect during leisure, and actual affect during paid work. Thus, a secondary research question is proposed:

What role, if any, does gender (i. …

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