Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 555–578 | Cite as

Leisure and Subjective Well-Being: A Model of Psychological Mechanisms as Mediating Factors

  • David B. NewmanEmail author
  • Louis Tay
  • Ed Diener
Research Paper


Leisure is a key life domain and a core ingredient for overall well-being. Yet, within positive psychology, its definition and the psychological pathways by which it evokes happiness are elusive (Diener and Biswas-Diener 2008). In this paper, we seek to address these issues by delineating leisure and presenting a conceptual framework linking leisure to subjective well-being (SWB). Leisure is defined as a multidimensional construct, encompassing both structural and subjective aspects. Respectively, it is the amount of activity/time spent outside of obligated work time and/or perceived engagement in leisure as subjectively defined. To explain the effects of leisure on SWB, a quantitative summary of theories from 363 research articles linking leisure and SWB was conducted. Based on our findings, we propose five core psychological mechanisms that leisure potentially triggers to promote leisure SWB: detachment-recovery, autonomy, mastery, meaning, and affiliation (DRAMMA). These psychological mechanisms promote leisure SWB which leads to enhanced global SWB through a bottom-up theory of SWB. We discuss how future research can use this conceptual model for understanding the interplay between leisure and SWB.


Leisure Subjective well-being Psychological mechanisms Review 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyCollege of William and MaryWilliamsburgUSA
  2. 2.Purdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  3. 3.University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and The Gallup OrganizationOmahaUSA

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