Consumer Satisfactions From Leisure Time Pursuits

Douglass K. Hawes, University of Wyoming
W. Wayne Talarzyk, The Ohio State University
Roger D. Blackwell, The Ohio State University
[ to cite ]:
Douglass K. Hawes, W. Wayne Talarzyk, and Roger D. Blackwell (1975) ,"Consumer Satisfactions From Leisure Time Pursuits", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 02, eds. Mary Jane Schlinger, Ann Abor, MI : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 817-836.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 2, 1975      Pages 817-836


Douglass K. Hawes, University of Wyoming

W. Wayne Talarzyk, The Ohio State University

Roger D. Blackwell, The Ohio State University

[This research was supported by the Fred and Mabel Dean Hill Research Fund. The authors also express appreciation to Professor Arthur Cullman, The Ohio State University, for his encouragement and assistance in the completion of this project. The senior author also wishes to express his appreciation to Ms. Tammy Tulley and Mr. Staale Engen for their able assistance in the computations resulting in Tables 2, 3, 8, and 9.]

[Douglass K. Hawes is Assistant Professor of Business Administration, University of Wyoming.]

[W. Wayne Talarzyk is Associate Professor of Marketing, The Ohio State University.]

[Roger D. Blackwell is Professor of Marketing, The Ohio State University, and Vice President, Management Horizons, Inc.]

Leisure time pursuits are increasingly becoming a topic of major concern to scholars and practitioners in many different disciplines. This study was an attempt to define the patterns of usage of leisure time pursuits of Americans, and to analyze the satisfactions derived from leisure time activities. Findings are presented in a series of tables.

The study found that it is possible to determine the satisfactions which consumers derive from their leisure time pursuits. It is also possible to group leisure time pursuits and to group satisfactions into interpretable clusters. Some discussion is presented on the utility of these findings to businessmen, and to planners in the public sector.

Leisure time pursuits are increasingly a topic of major concern to scholars in a variety of disciplines. Marketing practitioners are attracted by the massive amounts of money, variously estimated between $80-$150 billion devoted to leisure time goods and services. Politicians and resource planners are concerned with the rapidly increasing demands on public recreation facilities and extensive shortages likely to occur in certain leisure facilities. Sociologists and social psychologists may be increasingly interested in the need to understand mental health in terms of time usage patterns and in quality of life indicators. Consumer behavior theorists realize that a comprehensive explanatory model of consumer choice must include analysis of time budget influences as well as money budget influences.


The purpose of this study was to describe leisure time pursuits of Americans and to analyze the satisfactions derived from leisure time activities. The study encompasses additional research questions, but in this paper, the following questions are investigated:

1. What are the major leisure time pursuits of American consumers?

2. Are there identifiable "satisfactions," or perceived felt benefits, which people (participants) derive from leisure time pursuits?

3. If there are identifiable "satisfactions," do these "satisfactions" cluster or group together in some manner based upon particular leisure time pursuits?

4. Do people typically engage in definable, fairly distinct, clusters of leisure time pursuits to the exclusion of other pursuits? If so, how strongly are the pursuits within a cluster related? Can these clusters be considered reachable, viable market segments?

Research Hypotheses

In addition to the descriptive portions of this study, the research questions can be restated as research hypotheses:

H1: There are definable "satisfactions" which people derive from leisure time pursuits.

H2: Leisure time pursuits and satisfactions can be clustered into distinct groups.

Definitions of Terms

The following definitions were used in this study:

1. Leisure time--Time perceived by the respondent as not obligated a priori to work, work-related activities, life maintenance activities, routine family duties and responsibilities, and routine social and civic responsibilities.

2. Leisure time pursuits--Those endeavors, either passive or active, which people undertake during their leisure time. "Pursuit" is used rather than activity because it does not have the connotative restriction of "activeness.''

3. Groups of ParticiPants--Aggregations of individuals defined by their leisure time life style and pursuits. A verbal profile of groups of individuals built up by relating an individual and his or her situational parameters either to favorite leisure time pursuits or those pursuits participated in the year prior to the study.

4. Satisfactions--The meanings or significance which leisure-time pursuits hold for the respondent, as perceived by the respondent. These meanings can be viewed as perceived psychological "outputs" in a model of decision making or benefits from participating in 2 pursuit.

These meanings or benefits are embodied in a list of statements (hereafter called "satisfactions statements") of unitary affective content. The respondent indicates the relevance of each satisfaction to him or her (as an output from participation in a favorite pursuit) by rating each statement on a five-point "importance" scale.


The research methodology used in this study involved collecting data on a fairly comprehensive group of leisure time oriented variables from a representative cross-section of the American population. The study was designed to collect sufficient data to provide analysis of a wide range of leisure time related topics.

Data Collection

The instrument used to collect data was a questionnaire containing, in part, the following information:

1. respondent's favorite leisure-time pursuits (three pursuits selected from a list of 50).

2. "satisfactions" statements rated on a 1-5 scale from "very important" to "not important."

3. respondent's participation in leisure-time pursuits in the past, and during 1972.

4. respondent's rating (from "strongly agree" to "strongly disagree") of 87 AIO (activity, interest, opinion) statements.

5. demographic variables including:

a. respondent's age

b. respondent's religion

c. respondent's education

d. total family income

e. household size

f. occupation of husband

g. rural/urban location of household.

Other information such as time budgets, perceived time/money tradeoffs, and media preferences, was also collected and will be presented in additional reports when analysis is completed.

A pre-test was conducted among students to determine the clarity of the questions and a secondary pre-test of the questionnaire was conducted among 85 households in the Columbus area. Based on this pre-testing it was decided to use a five-point scale instead of a seven-point scale on AIO questions in order to minimize respondent fatigue. Seventeen statements were also eliminated from the final survey instrument because they failed to meet various response criteria such as discriminatory ability. Numerous other modifications were made based upon the pre-test results. The final pre-test was conducted among 100 households throughout the United States using the same sampling procedure described below.

Sampling Procedure and Response Rate

Two questionnaires were mailed to 1000 households in May, 1973 by Market Facts, Inc., from their panels of 45,000 households. Questionnaires for males and for females were sent to households whose names had recently been added to the panel, and were sent to households with demographic characteristics proportional to demographic characteristics for the United States. A total of 603 usable female and 512 usable male questionnaires were returned. There were 23 additional female and 96 additional male questionnaires which were returned incompletely answered. While these could have been used for specific questions, the following analyses were performed only on the completely returned questionnaires. The response rate was 63 percent while the net usable returns totaled 61 percent.

The demographic characteristics of the respondents were very close to the proportions true of the entire United States on geographic region, urbanization, income and education, and only slightly higher in age than the adult U.S. population. Families with total household income under $4,000 were excluded from the original sample, but incomes of respondents were similar to the total United States.


The findings concerning leisure time pursuits and the satisfactions associated with them are presented in Tables 1 through 10. A brief commentary is presented below on the findings of each of these tables.

Leisure Time Pursuits of American Consumers

The most popular, and hence most frequently pursued, leisure time pursuits of American consumers are described in Table 1. Among women consumers, the most frequent leisure time pursuit is "listening to music from records, tapes, FM or AM radio" and was engaged in by almost 90 percent of the sample women during 1972. The second and third most popular pursuits were "visiting with friends, partying" and "reading a book for pleasure," and were engaged in by 89.2 percent and 88.7 percent of the sample respectively.

It is interesting to note that the five most popular pursuits among the women are basically indoor pursuits. It is not until one looks at the sixth and seventh ranked pursuits ("attending movies" (84.2 percent) and "driving around for pleasure or sightseeing" (84.1 percent)) that truly outside-the-home pursuits appear. Finally, ten different pursuits were engaged in by more than 80 percent of the sample women, and of these ten, seven are basically indoor, around-the-home pursuits.

A somewhat different pattern is evident among men consumers. For male members of the sample, the most frequent leisure time pursuit during 1972 was "visiting with friends, partying"--engaged in by 85.4 percent of the sample. The second and third most popular pursuits were "driving around for pleasure or sightseeing" (85.2 percent), and "listening to music from records. tapes, FM or AM radio" (83.2 percent).

Among the top five pursuits for the males, only three are basically indoor pursuits. Six of the top ten pursuits are in the indoor, around-the-home category. Finally, only the four most popular pursuits were engaged in by more than 80 percent of the sample, while the tenth most popular attracted only 63 percent of the men. This implies a more diffuse, extensive set of leisure time interests among men than among women. Women appear to be somewhat more homogeneous and intensive in their leisure time interests.

Table 2 (females) and 3 (males) present the basic demographic characteristics of participants in the 42 most popular leisure time pursuits. The figures given are rounded percentages and may be compared with the percentage distributions in the total sample which are listed in Table 4 below. The volume of data in these two tables does not readily lend itself to a verbal summary analysis, so discussion will be limited to several selected relationships.









Among the females (Table 2), it is evident that golf and tennis are played by the better educated and wealthier women. Disproportionately more women less than 34 years of age prefer tennis, while golf, on the other hand, tends to be preferred by those less than 25 and over 45. By contrast, picnicking, attending movies, playing bingo, bridge or other card games, driving around for pleasure, listening to music, playing with children, reading a book, visiting with friends, and writing letters or doing crossword puzzles have a broad appeal to all categories of education, income, and age.

Several interesting patterns can be discerned from the male data (Table 3). For example, camping by trailer, camper or motor home is a popular activity of those males with some or no high school education and by those who have completed some or all of a college education. The $4,000$5,999 and $8,00049,999 income groups are also disproportionately represented among the participants in this activity, as are those under 25 years of age, between 35 and 44 and over 55 years of age. This would appear to have some interesting sociological implications for campground operators.

Satisfactions from Leisure Time Pursuits

The relative importance of satisfactions (irrespective of particular pursuits) is described in Table 5. Table 5 presents the averages or mean rating on a 1-5 scale of importance (1 = "very important to me"; 5 = "not important at all to me"), therefore, the lower the average, the more important that satisfaction is to most people across all the activities selected as "most favorite". [Respondents were asked to select their "most favorite," "second most favorite" and "third most favorite" pursuits from the list of 50 pursuits provided. Each of these three pursuits were then rated against each of the 32 "satisfactions" statements. Table 5 presents the averages of just the "most favorite" category.]

Among women consumers, the most important satisfactions are "peace of mind," "chance to learn about new things," and '!chance to get the most out of life while I can still enjoy it." A chance to "escape home or family pressures" is also important to women.

Among men consumers, the most important satisfactions are "peace of mind," "chance to get the most out of life while I can still enjoy it," and "adventure and excitement." The comfortableness of "an old familiar activity," and the generation of "happy memories" after the occasion has passed are also important satisfactions to men.

Related Leisure Time Pursuits

The leisure time pursuits of consumers were examined to determine if clusters of related pursuits exist. Table 6 discloses the results of this analysis. This is a test of Hypothesis 2 and the results indicate that leisure time pursuits do cluster together.

The methodology employed in Table 6 is a factor analysis of the 50 leisure time pursuits indicated by respondents as those in which they engaged during the previous year. The analytical approach used was principal components factor analysis followed by Varimax rotation to simple structure. Groups were determined on the basis of statements which loaded at least 0.40 on the particular rotated factor and were at least three in number per rotated factor. Factors were extracted as long as the Varimax rotated factors accounted for at least 5 percent of variance, and had at least three variables loading 0.40 or greater.

Female leisure pursuits. Group 1 of female leisure pursuits (Table 6) appears to be an active, group sports oriented cluster while Group 2 is more individualistic in orientation. Group 3 represents a variety of pursuits in which the nature of the relationship is unclear. Group 4 seems to be active, people-oriented while group 5 appears individualist in orientation but also of a passive orientation. Groups 6 through 9 are definitely outdoor-oriented, but variously more active or more passive in orientation. These groups account for 51.2 percent of the variance.

Male leisure pursuits. Group l of male leisure pursuits (Table 6) appears to be active and traditionally oriented. Group 2 seems to be creative, passive, and perhaps delicate in orientation. Group 3 appears to be an upper socioeconomic scale orientation, while group 4 may be lower socioeconomic scale and people-oriented. Group 5 seems individualistic and outdoor while group 6 appears more passive and "around-the-house" in orientation. These groups account for 42 percent of the variance.

On the basis of these results, the first part of the hypothesis (H2) is accepted that leisure time pursuits can be clustered together in identifiable groups of activities.





Related Leisure Time Satisfactions

Satisfactions from leisure time pursuits were examined and were also found to cluster in identifiable groups. These groups are presented in Table 7. Similar methods of factor analysis were used in Table 7 as in the preceding analysis of leisure time pursuits. Statements of respondents refer to the satisfactions derived from their "most favorite" activities.

Female satisfactions from leisure time activities. Group 1 satisfactions for females (Table 7) stresses "newness" and "relating to people." Croup 2 stresses mental activity and psychological independence, control and mastery. Group 3 has an active, physical, "body" orientation while group 4 is more contemplative and passive. Group 5 seems to imply a seeking of the unknown and of overcoming challenges. Group 6 may be an introspection-through-extroversion orientation, or as it is sometimes termed in clinical psychology, a "messiah complex." Group 7 implies a concern with self-respect. These groups account for 53 percent of the total variance.

Male satisfactions from leisure-time activities. Satisfactions from leisure time activities do not group together as clearly for males as for females. Within the first five groups, six statements appear in more than one group which implies less independent clusters of satisfactions.

Group 1 of male satisfactions (Table 7) has an implication of active, physical, competence-seeking. Group 2 seems to represent a desire for recognition through "good works," as well as seeking an understanding of self--perhaps the "messiah complex" again. Group 3 implies contemplative introspection, possibly outdoor-oriented. Group 4 may have a nostalgia orientation along with "living life to the fullest." Group 5 appears to represent a seeking of the unknown and the overcoming of challenges. Group 6 may represent a family orientation, while group 7 is oriented toward interaction with people. These groups account for 53 percent of the total variation.

On the basis of these results, the second half of the hypothesis (H2), that leisure time satisfactions can be clustered together in identifiable groups of satisfactions, is accepted.

Related Satisfactions and Leisure Time Pursuits

Leisure time satisfactions and leisure time pursuits were analyzed to test the relationships between them. The results of this analysis are displayed descriptively in Tables 8 (females) and 9 (males). As in Table 5, the cell values in the matrix are the mean of the responses to each satisfaction statement for each of the listed pursuits. The lower the cell value, the more respondents felt that a particular satisfaction was an important outcome of their participation in the pursuit. The full description of the volume of data in these two tables precludes a detailed verbal analysis in this paper; therefore, only a few selected relationships will be mentioned.

Among the female respondents, the strongest benefits or satisfactions derived from camping by trailer, camper, or motor home were "stronger family ties" and "enjoying the wonder of nature." Similarly, gardening, lawn care or landscaping presents a good opportunity to be "alone with my thoughts" for many of the women. This particular cell value is also the lowest (1.09).







Among the male respondents, for example, the strongest satisfactions from playing basketball, football, baseball, softball, volleyball or handball, are "contact with friends," a '!chance to compete," and a "physical challenge." The men indicated that reading a book for pleasure provided the greatest opportunity to be "alone with my thoughts," rather than gardening, lawn care, etc. as the women had indicated. The lowest cell value in this table (1.29) indicates that "contact with friends" is the strongest benefit to men from visiting with friends or partying.

Attitudes Toward Leisure Time Activities

The attitudes toward leisure time activities of consumers were measured by the use of AIO (activity, interest, opinion) statements. Some of the more illuminating responses to activity statements are presented in Table 10.

Vacations. An inspection of activity statements relating to vacations (Table 10) discloses that Americans are family-oriented in their vacations. Both males and females agree that their family often travels together. There is also substantially the same proportion of responses from males and females concerning the type of vacation that is appropriate, and the importance of the children in vacation planning.

Entertainment. Television is the primary source of entertainment for a family and both males and females agree about this (Table 10). There is substantial agreement about entertainment preferences although females have somewhat more preference for an evening out (dinner or theatre) and males have slightly stronger preference for a quiet evening at home. Sporting events are rated considerably higher by men than by women as a leisure activity,with men putting somewhat more emphasis on the competitive value on sports and on participation.

Value of time. More Americans believe they do not have enough leisure time than believe they do have enough time (Table 10). This is especially true for men compared to women. Most people are relatively satisfied with their leisure activities and do not consider them boring and, therefore, apparently wish they had more time for those activities. To a large degree, consumers appear to rate the factor of time as more important than money in their recreation (52% of women, 55% of men).


This study, while exploratory in nature, offers encouragement to both the theoretician of leisure and consumer choice, and to the business strategist interested in the profit opportunities of time and leisure markets.

First, this study indicates it is possible to measure the satisfactions that consumers derive from leisure time activities and in this sense is an expansion of the work of Donald and Havighurst (1959). Out of the 32 "satisfaction" statements, 21 of them appeared to be meaningful to the female respondents in relation to pursuits selected as favorites. Twenty-three of these statements appeared meaningful to males.

It should be noted that individuals can apparently relate their participation in outdoor, active, group-oriented pursuits more readily to derived satisfactions than they can participation in indoor, passive, primarily individual pursuits. The latter type of pursuit engendered an "indifferent or does not apply" response on half or more of the satisfactions statements by half or more of the respondents. This might imply that people who participate in this type of pursuit do so for reasons (to gain "satisfactions") which are (1) subconscious, (2) perceived to be socially unacceptable in some sense, (3) not included in the list provided, or (4) few in number compared with outdoor, active, group-oriented pursuits.



Second, this study indicates that leisure time pursuits do cluster together in interpretable groups (factors) which individually account for approximately 5-16 percent of data variance. The clustering of leisure time pursuits supports the earlier findings of Proctor (1962), Burton (19715. and others.

A distinct difference was found between the indoor orientation of females and the slight overall outdoor orientation of the males. There were 13 indoor-oriented pursuits selected as favorites by females, but only eight outdoor-oriented ones. The males, on the other hand, selected 13 indoor-oriented pursuits as favorites (not the same set as the females) and 15 outdoor-oriented ones. In addition to the generally narrower range of pursuits selected by women, it is also significant to note that females and males appear to have sufficiently diverse favorites in some cases as to be incompatible in terms of simultaneous performance. The resolution of this incompatibility should be of interest to family sociologists as well as to marketing strategists.

Leisure time satisfactions group together across many pursuits and also in relation to a single pursuit. This is significant because it indicates that individuals seek out a group of related leisure time satisfactions through a variety of means. Women appear to seek people contact, novelty, memories and stronger family relations in their favorite activity, whereas men seek challenge, mastery, control, recognition. and independence.

Certain pursuits appear to perform a "linking-pin" function in connecting two or more groups of (internally) "strongly" related pursuits. Picnicking and photography are examples of such pursuits. These linking pursuits appear to provide bundles of satisfactions which are different enough to satisfy different groups of participants.

The data in this study indicate many possibilities for determining segments of the markets on the basis of the satisfactions desired rather than the pursuits. This opens the possibility--both for planners of public facilities as well as strategists in the private sector--of substituting one leisure pursuit of lower cost or different availability for pursuits which have become difficult to make available. Conversely, leisure strategists may wish to conduct additional research along these lines in order to plan the grouping of recreation facilities in such a way as to offer related satisfactions to participants in a particular market segment (refer to National Academy of Sciences, 1969). Another application might be the planning of leisure facilities to provide alternative satisfactions for various family members within a close physical proximity.


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