Motivational and Social Aspects of Recreational Behavior

  • David C. Mercer


Over the past 15 years or so a number of countries around the world—notably the United States, Canada, Sweden, and Great Britain—have expended a great deal of time, finance, and technical and bureaucratic energy in the execution of sophisticated national recreation surveys, designed to identify participation rates in a variety of (primarily) outdoor activities, the trends in participation, and the factors influencing leisure time behavior. The main rationale for these large-scale empirical surveys invariably has been twofold: to chart in a quantitative fashion the dimensions of the recreation “problem” and, where possible, model and predict future patterns of participation. By their very nature such investigations are concerned almost exclusively with large statistical aggregates and with average or “modal” behavior rather than with individuals or small groups. The emphasis consequently is on relatively easily measurable independent variables such as age, income, and occupation and dependent variables such as recreation days, visitor days, and the like. Likewise, the preoccupation generally is with analytical elegance or simplicity rather than with comprehensiveness, and with prediction at a gross social aggregate level rather than with understanding the leisure phenomenon at the scale of the individual or small group. Findings are generally reported on a national or broad regional basis, and major financial commitments are often made on the basis of the survey results. For example, the finding of the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission (ORRRC) that driving for pleasure is the most frequently engaged-in activity in the United States resulted in a proposal to spend 4 billion dollars on a national system of scenic roads in that country.


Recreational Activity Outdoor Recreation Recreational Pursuit Leisure Good Leisure Behavior 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • David C. Mercer
    • 1
  1. 1.Monash UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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