Some extraordinary leisure experiences that accompany high levels of intensity and commitment contribute to individuals' quality of life (Stebbins, 2007). Examples of these extraordinary experiences include flow and serious leisure . Csikszentmihaly (1990) characterized flow as an intense psychological state when people participate in activities in which challenges and skills are high and balanced. On the other hand, devotion, high-investment, and commitment characterize serious leisure (Kelly & Freysinger, 2000). Research has shown that individuals engaging in serious leisure may experience flow, but no previous empirical study has tested their relationships . Additionally, some researchers argue that situational factors such as social context and location are important variables for experiencing flow (Han, 1992; Privette & Bundrick, 1991). The purpose of this study was to investigate how serious leisure, individual difference, social context, and location contribute to flow experience in the daily lives of older adults.
This study employed the Experience Sampling Method (ESM) so that participants could record ongoing events and their immediate responses to those events. Data were collected both at the between-persons level (i.e., age, gender, retirement status) and at the within-person level (i.e., multiple measurements of serious leisure, location, social contexts in everyday life). The data in this study represent over 700 repeated measures of experiences that were nested within 19 older adults (mean age = 72, SD = 5.98).
Data were analyzed using Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM). It was found that retirement significantly reduced the experience of flow (γ = -.96, p < .05), and it decreased the odds of flow by 62%. The location variable was significantly associated with the dependent measure. There was a significant association between Home and Indication of Flow Experience (γ = .49, p < .05). When the participants were at home, the odds of experiencing flow increased by 64%.
The findings reveal that participants who were retired were less likely to experience flow than those who were not retired. It was also found that that older adults in this study were likely to experience flow when they were at home. Other level 1 variables (i.e., social context, serious leisure) as well as age and gender were not significantly associated with the dependent measure.