Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Enduring Involvement, Situational Involvement, and Flow in Leisure and Non-Leisure Activities

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Enduring Involvement, Situational Involvement, and Flow in Leisure and Non-Leisure Activities

Article excerpt

Researchers have developed a number of constructs such as substitutability (Iso Ahola, 1986), commitment (Buchanan, 1985), enduring involvement (Havitz & Dimanche, 1990) and loyalty (Backman, 1991) to help explain people's stable and continuing leisure preferences, choices and participation to aid in planning, marketing and managing leisure service delivery. The latter research streams, such as that for involvement, have drawn heavily from the mainline marketing and consumer behavior literature and have not been fully integrated into the leisure literature. Several researchers (e.g., Havitz & Dimanche, 1999; Kyle & Chick, 2002) have argued that the relatively isolated enduring involvement literature should be cross-fertilized with situation-specific leisure research in order to make more profound contributions to the literature.

At the same time, the experiential outcomes of leisure activities have been increasingly recognized as important to planning and managing leisure services and understanding leisure consumer behavior (Driver & Tocher, 1970; Mannell, 1999; Manning, 1986). However, the nature of the experiential outcomes of participation in leisure activities for which people have developed some level of ego involvement and continuing commitment has not been explored. It would seem to make intuitive sense that some of the activities with which people become involved might provide conditions that promote more psychologically meaningful and involving experiential outcomes (Mannell, 1993; Stebbins, 2001).

In the present paper, we examine the relationship between the constructs of enduring involvement, situational involvement, and flow. To develop our understanding of this relationship further, we also attempt to clarify and operationalize the concept of situational involvement, and propose and test several models of the relationships among enduring involvement, situational involvement and flow in both leisure and non-leisure contexts. Specifically, we hypothesize that the higher the level of enduring involvement in an activity, the more likely people are to experience episodes of high psychological involvement or flow when engaged in that activity. The potential mediating effect of situational involvement is examined in this context and we hypothesize that situational involvement will significantly mediate relationships between enduring involvement and flow.

The extent to which relationships between enduring involvement, situational involvement, and flow differ in leisure and non-leisure contexts was also examined. It has been suggested that leisure contexts are, for many people, inherently "more involving" than are non-leisure contexts (Havitz & Dimanche, 1997) in part because leisure contexts may provide more freedom of choice (Mannell, 1980; Csikszentmihalyi & LeFevre, 1989) and accurate personality impressions than do non-leisure contexts (Leckey & Mannell, 2000). Research is limited in this area, however.

Enduring Involvement (EI)

Involvement is a commonly used word and the various meanings associated with it range from describing overt behavior to latent social psychological constructs. A substantial body of research has developed related to EI, also referred to as "leisure" or "ego" involvement in the literature, (Havitz & Dimanche, 1997). This type of involvement has been defined by Havitz and Dimanche as an "unobservable state of motivation, arousal or interest toward a recreational activity or associated product, evoked by a particular stimulus or situation, and which has drive properties" (p. 246; adapted from Rothschild, 1984, p. 216). In lay terms, for example, we often speak of people who are "really into golf or who "live to ski" when describing ego involved individuals. High involvement is generally viewed in positive terms in the leisure literature although negative terminology such as "addicted to running" and negative consequences, including excessive participation and spending, have been identified (Bloch, 1990). …

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