Understanding what motivates an individual to engage in a recreational activity that inherently involves elements of danger or potential risk has been the subject of a growing corpus of literature. Several theories have been developed that seek to explain the reason people engage in outdoor adventure activities. Early theories included arousal seeking [8
], the peak experience [9
], flow [10
], and edgework [11
]. Buckley [12
] developed a classification system involving adventure recreation that uses the concepts of internal motivations, such as fear, control, skill development, and sense of achievement, and external motives such as social-based factors, defined as friendship development, image construction, escape, and competition with others or the environment. Expanding on this type of classification, this study specifically examined the relationship between hedonic and eudaimonic motivations within three different types of OAA activities, gender, and levels of experience.
Ewert and Hollenhorst [13
] examined the relationship between the level of experience and the concept of internal and external motivations. Both Buckley [12
] and Ewert and Hollenhorst [13
] hypothesized that, as individuals become more engaged in a particular OAA activity, their motivations for participation will become more aligned with internal motivations, such as experiencing a personal challenge, achievement, control, and risk-taking, as opposed to external motivations, such as feeling pressured by friends or family to participate. Ewert, Gilbertson, Luo, and Voight [14
] expanded on this by suggesting that as individuals develop skills and competencies concerning an activity, their intrinsic motivations for participation in this activity will continue to increase. Ewert et al. [14
] also found that gender can exert an influential role in motivations for participation. In their study, females were more motivated by social considerations such as developing friendship, whereas males were more motivated by achievement and competition. Gilbertson and Ewert [15
] also found support for the importance of gender and activity type, similar to the findings of Ewert, Gilbertson, Luo, and Voight [14
], and that these reported motives stayed relatively constant over six years. Fisher [16
] suggested that competence in an activity would not automatically increase intrinsic motivation in and of itself but needed to be coupled with a feeling of autonomy and positive impacts.
2.2. Eudaimonic and Hedonic Motives
Eudaimonic and hedonic concepts have a long history, originally being discussed as far back as ancient Greece [17
]. More recently, the two concepts have often been associated with issues such as well-being and positive psychology. Within this context, hedonic motivations often consist of pleasure and positive emotions [18
]. Several authors have posited that hedonic enjoyment refers to experiencing positive effects that accompany getting or having action opportunities that the individual wishes to experience [19
]. Deci and Ryan [21
] further elaborated that hedonic enjoyment can be felt whenever pleasant effects accompany the fulfillment of physical, intellectual, or socially based needs.
Moreover, eudaimonic aspects typically include facets of life meaning, personal growth and development, and fulfillment [22
]. Huta and Ryan [23
] suggest that while hedonically motivated activities are engaged in for pleasure and comfort, eudaimonic-motivated activities are engaged in by an individual to develop their best efforts. Huta and Ryan [23
] further suggest that hedonic motives are related to subjective wellbeing (e.g., positive affect and carefreeness) while eudaimonic motives are more related to meaning. Waterman et al. [24
] suggested that hedonic motivations are often short-lived and related to “getting important things that one wants” (p 235). Eudaimonic motives tend to be more complex and are often related to engaging in behaviors that are longer-lasting, deeply satisfying, and perceived to be worth doing [24
]. In addition, Fletcher and Prince [25
] posited that participating in an OAA for eudaimonic-based reasons may involve hedonic enjoyment, but not all hedonic-motivated activities involve eudaimonic motivations.
Eudaimonia is also thought to refer to feelings associated with developing an individual’s sense of fulling their potential and moving toward a sense of self-realization, life meaning, personal growth and development, and fulfillment [26
]. Furthering this position, Ryan, Huta, and Deci [27
] posit that eudaimonic benefits often stem from the satisfaction of the basic psychological needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness, concepts strongly associated with self-determination theory.
It should be noted that there continues to be debate as to whether hedonic and eudaimonic motives are conceptually different. Kashdan, Biswas-Diener, and King [28
] suggested that the two concepts are similar and often difficult to disentangle. Conversely, using a sample of outdoor education students, Vittersø and Søholt [29
] and Della Fave et al. [22
] found conceptual differences between the two types of motivations. Rounding out this disagreement, Henderson, and Knight [30
] and Joshanoo [31
] suggested that both hedonic and eudaimonic approaches denote important aspects of motivation. In this study, we take the position that hedonic and eudaimonic motivations are distinguishable enough to be measured, and this measurement forms the basis for this work and provides a more comprehensive understanding of motives for participation in OAAs beyond the more generalized internal and external motivations previously studied.
Within the OAA area, limited literature was identified that linked eudaimonic and hedonic motives with the specific independent variables of interest in this study, namely, gender, level of experience, and types of activities. For example, LeFebvre and Huta [32
] assessed adults’ motivations in the pursuit of well-being across the adult lifespan. Their findings indicated that hedonic-based motives decreased for both males and females from their 30’s onward. For females, eudaimonic motivations increased until their 30’s and did not change significantly thereafter. For males, eudaimonic motivations decreased in their 30’s and 40’s, but then increased from their 40’s through 60’s. Houge, Mackenzie, and Brymer [18
] suggested that in those activities using nature and the outdoors, eudaimonic motivations are emerging as more important than the previously assumed hedonic types of motivations. Related to this, Houge, Mackenzie, and Hodge [26
] found that OAA activities foster eudaemonic aspects of subjective well-being by supporting the satisfaction of basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, relatedness, and beneficence. Contrary to this finding, Zhou, Chleosz, Tower, and Morris [33
] found more support for hedonic motives such as enjoyment, physical condition, and competition or ego in participants engaged in extreme sports and physical activity. This study examines the under-researched area of the relationship between eudaimonic and hedonic motivations for participation in OAAs concerning three specific OAA activities, gender, and level of experience. To date, little is known about the eudaimonic and hedonic perspective and the variables that influence these motivations within an OAA setting.