Flow and outdoor adventure recreation: Using flow measures to re-examine motives for participation

S. A. Jackson, R. C. Eklund, A. Gordon, C. Norsworthy, S. Houge Mackenzie, K. Hodge, S. A. Stephen

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Adventure participants have traditionally been viewed as having thrill or risk-seeking motives, and this perception remains despite empirical research suggesting that other motives may drive participation. This study was conducted to extend understanding of participation motives of adventure recreation participants in relation to Csiksentmihalyi's nine-dimension model of flow and other proposed motivational constructs. Participants (n = 199) who had typically engaged in their adventure recreation activity (i.e., highlining, rock climbing, downhill mountain biking, freefalling, snow sports) regularly, and with considerable competence, took part in this investigation by completing self-report measures of dispositional flow (The Dispositional Flow Scale; DFS-2), state flow (The Short Flow State Scale; SFSS), and participation motives in their adventure recreation environments. Support was observed in confirmatory factor analytic procedures for the factorial validity of DFS-2 and SFSS data obtained from adventure recreation participants. Mean scores from measures on participant experience of flow in adventure recreation were generally found to be significantly higher than previously observed in other physical activity domains, with some differences also being observed among adventure recreation subgroups. Contrary to traditional explanations of adventure recreation participation, risk-seeking was not supported as a key underlying motive by participants in this study. Mastery of one's adventure recreation activity, perceived connection to one's activity, and trust in one's skills, were identified as important participation motives. This study demonstrated that the DFS-2 and SFSS were able to satisfactorily assess flow constructs in adventure recreation, and supported recent research demonstrating flow to be a relevant experience to this setting. The implications of these findings for theory, practice, and future research directions in adventure recreation are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102427
JournalPsychology of Sport and Exercise
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023


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