What Is Enjoyment? A Conceptual/Definitional Analysis with Implications for Sport and Exercise Psychology

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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  • 1 Miami University
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It has been suggested that enjoyment is a key construct for understanding and explaining the motivation and experiences of sport and exercise participants (Scanlan & Simons, 1992; Wankel, 1993). In this paper, definitions of enjoyment used by sport and exercise psychology researchers are reviewed, and the conceptual and measurement implications for the study of sport and exercise experiences are discussed. In many studies investigating enjoyment, researchers have not adequately defined the construct. Also, there are possible limitations with proposed definitions of enjoyment (e.g., Scanlan & Simons, 1992; Wankel, 1993). One possible way of addressing these limitations is to conceptualize and define enjoyment as flow (Csikszentmihalyi, 1993). To support this enjoyment-equals-flow contention, enjoyment/flow is compared with other related constructs: affect, attitude, pleasure, and intrinsic motivation. Implications of the suggested definition of enjoyment as flow for past and present enjoyment research in sport and exercise psychology are discussed.

Jay C. Kimiecik and Amy T. Harris are with the PHs Department at Miami University, Phillips Hall, Oxford, OH 45056.

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