The Relationship Between the Use of the Internet and Subjective Leisure Activity


Leyland Pitt, Ian Phau, and Fen Teo (2002) ,"The Relationship Between the Use of the Internet and Subjective Leisure Activity", in AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5, eds. Ramizwick and Tu Ping, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 329.

Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5, 2002      Page 329


Leyland Pitt, Curtin University of Technology, Australia

Ian Phau, Curtin University of Technology, Australia

Fen Teo, Curtin University of Technology, Australia


This study examines Australian university students’ use of the Internet as a subjective leisure activity. Understanding how consumer preferences for Internet services evolve over time is critical for marketers as this new medium continues to impact the marketplace. Besides being a marketing medium for retail and service products, the Internet may also be perceived as a leisure activity (Teo et al, 1997). This complements well with the phenomenal growth that the leisure industry has enjoyed in recent years.


In this study, the use of the Internet as part of leisure activities was examined using the six dimensions of subjective leisure identified by Unger and Kernan (1983). These dimensions were also tested for convergent and nomological validity to examine if these six dimensions of leisure do indeed measure leisure. Finally, the research focussed on the relationship between these dimensions to Internet use. In summary, the following hypotheses are presented:

H1: Subjective leisure is a reliable measure.

H2: Subjective leisure is nomologically valid.

H3: Subjective leisure dimensions have convergent validity.

H4: Subjective leisure correlates with the use of the Internet (3 factorsBcommunication, shopping, and fun).


A survey was conducted by intercepting students in the campus of a large university in Western Australia. The age range was between 17 to 25 with about equal number of males and females. All the respondents are students from the business school. The main items in the questionnaire were largely adapted from the instrument developed by Unger and Kernan (1983). Short questions were asked about the respondents’ activities on the Internet with relation to the six dimensions of subjective leisure. The 26 statements on subjective leisure dimensions were rearranged systematically so that they did not appeared in the order corresponding to each dimension. Respondents were asked to rate on a 6-point Likert scale (1=Strongly Disagree, 6=Strongly Agree) the degree of agreement to the 26 statements. The remaining items on the questionnaire measure the amount of time spent using the Internet and the various activities respondents indulge in, over the Internet (namely, to communicate, to obtain information and shopping). A total of 150 responses were collected. 11 were incomplete thereby resulting in 139 usable responses for this study.


Conceptually, the findings indicated that the leisure dimensions established by Unger and Kernan (1983) are stable and consistent with the measurement of the concept of leisure. The leisure dimensions are convergently valid (with high correlation) when regressed against items that measure the use of the Internet as a leisure activity. However, they do not seem to be nomologically valid.

Some other interesting issues are also highlighted. First, students who use the Internet for leisure perceive it as a communication tool more than as a tool for entertainment such as participating in chat rooms and playing online games. These findings echo Katz and Aspden’s (1997) results that Internet users place more importance on communication. Given the growth of the Internet as an information superhighway, students view it as a vital instrument to aid in research as well as keeping in touch with family, friends and colleagues. The invasion of the new technology into their everyday lives gives rise to opportunities for universities to tap into the potential of new-age university campuses. This may provide an impetus to the success of the much talked about virtual learning and virtual universities. This will also encourage the perception of learning as a form of leisure.

Second, the fact that involvement is the best predictor of Internet as a leisure activity offers many opportunities for strategists and managers. The individual’s subjective feelings and experiences in the Web could be translated into a series of behavioural traits. These include increased exploratory behaviour, longer duration time spent and repeat visits. Building on Hoffman and Novak’s (1996) assertion, it is perceived that when an individual is highly involved in the net, "irrelevant thoughts are screened out entirely" on the interaction with the Web. Web designers must exploit this by incorporating self-absorbing components in their web sites so as to enhance their set objectives. It appears that web owners are likely to benefit by providing more information in the form of pictures, detailed product descriptions and other crucial and relevant data. For instance, for an educational website, it will encourage more in depth learning. Other retail or business web sites may encourage higher awareness building and purchase intentions.

Finally, students do not use the Internet as a shopping channel (only 19.4% have purchased online) or to gather information about products and services. Some reasons for this could be that students just may not have the time to shop online or that it is not financially viable to do so. However, what is not studied here is the product categories purchased over the Internet.


Hoffman, Donna L. and Thomas P. Novak (1996), "Marketing in Hypermedia Computer-Mediated Environments: Conceptual Foundations," Journal of Marketing, 60(July), 50-68.

Teo, T.S.H., Lim, V.K.G., and Lai, R.Y.C., (1997), "Users and Uses of the Internet: The Case of Singapore," International Journal of Information Management, 17(5), 325-336.

Unger, L. S. and Kernan, J. B. (1983) "On the Meaning of Leisure: An Investigation of Some Determinants of the Subjective Experience", Journal of Consumer Research, v9, pp.381-392.



Leyland Pitt, Curtin University of Technology, Australia
Ian Phau, Curtin University of Technology, Australia
Fen Teo, Curtin University of Technology, Australia


AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5 | 2002

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