Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Does Leisure Time Moderate or Mediate the Effect of Daily Stress on Positve Affect? an Examination Using Eight-Day Diary Data

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Does Leisure Time Moderate or Mediate the Effect of Daily Stress on Positve Affect? an Examination Using Eight-Day Diary Data

Article excerpt

Daily stressors refer to "routine challenges of day-to-day living" (e.g., meeting work deadlines) and unexpected small events that disrupt daily life (e.g., arguments with one's spouse) (Almeida, 2005, p. 64). Researchers have reported that frequent experiences of daily stressors have powerful influences on psychological well-being (Almeida & Kessler, 1998; Stawski, Sliwinski, Almeida, 8c Smyth, 2008). The significance of daily stress led researchers to examine various resources that help people cope with stress. One identified coping resource is leisure (e.g., Kabanoff 8c O'Brien, 1986; Reich 8c Zautra, 1981; Wheeler 8c Frank, 1988), the value of which, according to multiple researchers (Folkman, Moskowitz, Ozer, 8c Park, 1997; Pressman, Matthews, Cohen, Martire, Scheier, Baum, 8c Schulz, 2009), deserves more attention. It has also been suggested that studying how individuals use a particular resource, such as leisure, to cope with various stressors may be more informative than examining many ways of coping with certain stressors (Costa, Somerfield, 8c McCrae, 1996).

Studies in the leisure field, echoing the above suggestions, have focused on leisure as a coping resource (e.g., Chun, Lee, Kim, 8c Heo, 2012; Nimrod, Kleiber, 8c Berdychevsky, 2012) and have tested various theoretical models that may explain how individuals use leisure to cope with stress, including moderation and mediation (e.g., Iso-Ahola 8c Park, 1996; Iwasaki, 2003a). According to the moderation model, a coping resource has the greatest protective effect when an individual is exposed to the most intense stressors (Pearlin, 1999). According to the mediation model, exposure to stress influences a mediator, which then affects psychological outcomes (Aneshensel, 1999). So far, empirical studies of leisure coping have produced inconsistent results for both moderation (Iso-Ahola 8c Park, 1996; Iwasaki 8c Mannell, 2000; Kirkcaldy 8c Cooper, 1993) and mediation (Iwasaki, 2003a; 2003b) models, indicating need for further research.

Besides mixed evidence for the two theoretical models, there are gaps in the leisure literature that call for more research. First, previous research (e.g., Heintzman 8c Mannell, 2003; IsoAhola 8c Park, 1996) mainly conducted between-person comparisons. Few studies have taken a within-person approach to trace how the process of using leisure to cope with stress unfolds within the same person over time. Second, previous research either studied leisure as activities (e.g., Caltabiano, 1995; Zuzanek, Robinson, 8c Iwasaki, 1998) or assessed the underlying psychosocial mechanism of leisure as a coping resource (e.g., Iwasaki, 2003b). Despite the psychological benefits of having leisure time (Robinson, 1995), few studies examined the time aspect of leisure, i.e., whether the amount of leisure time a person has helps him/her cope with stress. Third, positive affect is a significant stress outcome (Folkman 8c Moskowitz, 2000), and the ability to sustain positive affect in time of stress can help prevent the onset of serious psychological symptoms (Ong, 2010). Despite the importance of positive affect, it is unclear whether leisure as a coping resource sustains positive affect in time of stress.

To fill the gaps in the literature, the purpose of this study is to examine whether the moderation or mediation model explains the effect of leisure time as a coping resource on positive affect on days with frequent daily stressors. We also examine whether there is any between-person difference in the within-person coping effect.

Daily Stress Frequency and Coping

Researchers have documented frequency of daily stressors among adult Americans. For example, Almeida, Wethington, and Kessler (2002) collected daily dairy data from a national sample of adult Americans for eight consecutive days, and found that the participants experienced at least one daily stressor on nearly 40% of the study days. On more than 10% of study days, participants experienced multiple daily stressors. …

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