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The structure of recreation behavior

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More, Thomas A.; Averill, James R.

Year Published



Journal of Leisure Research. 35(4): 372-395.


We present a meta-theoretical analysis of recreation concepts as an argument about organizing and explaining recreation behavior. Recreation activities are behavioral constructions that people build from both prototypic subsystems (those present in virtually all instances of the activity) and design subsystems (optional subsystems that adapt the activity to serve multiple goals). To explain the organizational structure of the behavior, we advocate a systems analysis that focuses on functions, mechanisms, and capacities, examined from biological, psychological and social perspectives. The resulting nine-cell matrix enables us to categorize common concepts in recreation research such as benefits, flow, and constraints in a way that is consistent with Aristotle's fourfold model of causation. A comprehensive explanation of an activity requires information about each of the matrix's cells, so that most of the commonly used concepts in recreation and leisure research provide complimentary rather than competing explanations.


Recreation behavior; explanation; function; mechanism; capacity; benefits; constraints


More, Thomas A.; Averill, James R. 2003. The structure of recreation behavior. Journal of Leisure Research. 35(4): 372-395.

Last updated on: November 16, 2008