Bringing Identity Theory into Leisure
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Despite a substantial volume of research on identity in the social and behavioral sciences, identity theory has existed on the margins of the leisure literature and contributed to the understanding of leisure behavior only in occasional illustrative references. The purpose of this dissertation was to incorporate identity theory in the understanding individuals? leisure behavior within the context of recreational golf. Three independent studies were conducted to address different yet interconnected research topics. The first study identified conceptual links between identity theory and the concepts of enduring involvement, commitment, loyalty, specialization and serious leisure. Guided by identity theory, it was suggested that identity-confirmation is the underlying reason why individuals become involved in a leisure activity and develop a commitment and side bets. Further, this study proposed that self-verification processes underline why individuals value certain lines of action (i.e., enduring involvement, commitment, and specialization) and, in turn, become specialists, amateurs or loyal clients. The second study investigated the relationship between gender identity, leisure identity and leisure participation. Using data collected from recreational golfers, results showed that both leisure identity and masculine identity positively influenced respondents? participation in recreational golf. Furthermore, the findings illustrated that masculine identity plays a formative role in the development of a leisure identity, which in turn is an antecedent of leisure behavior. The third study adopted the concept of identity conflict/facilitation to provide a theoretical framework for understanding the experience of constraints to leisure and constraint negotiation. Using data collected from recreational golfers, analyses provided evidence in support of the contention that identity conflict/facilitation is an antecedent of perceived constraints and negotiation efforts. The findings also illustrated that the ability to negotiate constraints depends on the compatibility between the leisure identity and the other identities an individual holds. Finally, a summary and synthesis of the findings and agenda for future research were discussed.