Work, leisure, and psychological well‐being in a sample of young adults

  • Haworth J
  • Hill S
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This study of 20 ‘white-collar’ workers aged 20–30 measured motivation, enjoyment and access to various categories of experience in both work and leisure, and examined their relationship with psychological well-being on a number of dimensions. The method used a short questionnaire, psychological scales and the innovatory ‘experience sampling methodology’ (ESM) where respondents answer questions in a diary on the receipt of a signal from a pre-programmed watch or radio pager eight times a day for 1 week. The results show, in line with other studies, that intrinsic motivation in daily life is correlated with happiness but that, not previously reported, when motivation at work is examined both extrinsic motivation and instances where a person had to do the activity but did not wish to be doing something else, i.e. ‘positive motivational change’, are correlated with positive aspects of psychological well-being, while instances where a person wanted to do the activity but wished to be doing something else, i.e. ‘negative motivational change’, correlated with negative aspects. The results also show that enjoyment in both work and leisure correlates with aspects of psychological wellbeing; and that macro ‘flow’ experiences, where high skills and high challenges are perceived as equal, are enjoyable and interesting and come primarily from work. The study also shows that categories of experience considered important for psychological well-being and deemed to come primarily from work can be obtained in leisure. The results are discussed in the context of person—situation interactions and processes, and it is advocated that these should be studied in a variety of samples.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Work
  • categories of experience
  • enjoyment
  • flow
  • leisure
  • motivation
  • personsituation interactions

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  • J. T. Haworth

  • S. Hill

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