A study of leisure-time habits of young men and young women in Los Angeles

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A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of the Department of Sociology The University of Southern California

In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of.Arts________

by Stella Elizabeth Hartman August


UMI Number: EP65636

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2 I 7 lo ^C . T h i s thesis, w r i t t e n by

STELLA ELIZABETH HARTMAN u n d e r the d i r e c t i o n o f h&?.. F a c u l t y C o m m i t t e e , a n d a p p r o v e d b y a l l i t s m e m b e r s , has been pr esent ed to a n d a ccept ed by the C o u n c i l on G r a d u a t e S t u d y a n d Re search in p a r t i a l f u l f i l l ­ m e n t o f the r e q u ir e m e n t s f o r the d egree o f



Secretary Date.


Faculty Committee

* Chairman








.................... .

1 1

Statement of the p r o b l e m ....................


Importance of the s t u d y .........


Definition of terms used



Organization of the study



REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE........................


Literature on recreation and leisure-time activities ................................ III.

SOURCES AND M E T H O D S ......................


Groups studied ................................


Method of making the s t u d y ....................


Survey m e t h o d ..............................


Observation m e t h o d ..........................


Interview method



The questionnaire method





Type of questionnaire to be u s e d ..............


Summary of method of making the study


LEISURE-TIME ACTIVITIES Activities classified Specific activities Summary

. . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . .

i .






. . . . . .



PAGE DESIRES FULFILLED AND DISTANCE TRA V E L E D ......... ’ 6l Desires fulfilled .




Distance traveled................ ...........




................................... .





SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS...................


Method of making the s t u d y ..................


Conclusions.................................. 100 Result of tabulations



Conclusions.................................. 106 BIBLIOGRAPHY..................................... APPENDIX


Ill 115




Classification of Activities, By Age and Sex, Ranked According to Popularity




Classification of Activities with Participation Count, By Age and Sex G r o u p s ................... 45


Participation in Out-of-door Activities, According to Age and Sex Groups


................. 48

Participation in Indoor Activities, According to Age and Sex G r o u p s ..................



Frequency of Participation in Certain Activities, as shown by Check List, According to Age and Sex G r o u p s ..........................



Participation in Desired Activities, by Percentage, According to Age and Sex G r o u p s ................. 62


Reasons for not Fulfilling Desires, According to Age and Sex Groups



Comparison for Women of Activities Liked Best with Activities Engaged In, According to Age Groups



. 70

Comparison for Men of Activities Liked Best with Activities Engaged In, By Age G r o u p s . ......... * 7 1


Distance Traveled to Certain Activities, According to Age and Sex Groups

..................... 7 8



PAGE Number of Individuals Who Cheeked the Various Interests, According to Age and Sex Groups


. . .

Where Leisure-Time Activities are Preferred, According to Age and Sex Groups, By Percentage.





Number Preferring to Share Activities With a Few Intimate Friends, According to Age and Sex Groups, By Percentage ........................

. 97

CHAPTER I PROBLEM AND DEFINITION OF TERMS USED An interest in community planning in recreation and in methods of developing activity programs in group work agencies in Los Angeles led to the undertaking of a study of the recrea­ tional habits and desires of young people living in the Los Angeles area, I.


Statement of the problem.

It was the purpose of this

study (1 ) to discover the recreational habits and desires of young people in Los Angeles; (2) to find out the relationship of the activities engaged in and the general interests of young people; (3) to experiment with certain types of questionnaires in an attempt to discover the best method of getting the desired results. The study was made for the specific purpose of finding out what types of activities are engaged in by young people in Los Angeles and to discover some of the attitudes of the par­ ticipants toward those activities.

It attempted to ascertain

whether or not young people feel that they are able to par­ ticipate in the activities they want, and to discover what factors, in the estimation of the people studied, prevented them from engaging in the desired activities.

Planning for leisure-time activities, whether it be planning for a total community program or for the activities program, of a.single agency or group, should be based on more than just a knowledge of the specific activities in which people participate or wish to participate..

A knowledge of the motiva­

tions behind the choice of activities is of greater significance to the planner and provides an opportunity for more construc­ tive and more creative planning.

Are activities chosen be­

cause of the facilities available? "everybody is doing it?"

Are they chosen because

Are they chosen because of some

inner satisfaction to the doer?

Are they related to specific

interests or abilities of the participant?

These questions

are important and should be understood by those providing recreational opportunities.

As a step in the direction of a

clearer understanding of motivations for choice, the study ventured to discover the relationship of the activities en­ gaged in to the stated interests of the participants. Importance of the study.

A great deal has been said

from time to time about the leisure time needs of young men and young women in Los Angeles and their inability to fulfill their recreational desires because of (1 ) a lack of recrea­ tional facilities and (2 ) insufficient funds to spend on recreation.

Some community planners and leaders of organiza­

tions providing recreation programs felt the need for a

verification of these statements.

Others have felt the need

to know more about the interests and desires of not only the young people taking part in programs already provided, by the private group work agencies.and the public playgrounds, but also of that much larger number of young men and women who do not frequent these places.

Others felt the need for a better

understanding of what the young people themselves thought about their leisure-time pursuits.

There were a number of

studies which covered most of the above points, but they were made as studies representative of the recreation interests and desires of young people throughout the country as a whole. While these studies are valuable and formed the basis for much that had been said about the needs of the Los Angeles young people there seemed to be a need for a specific study of the Los Angeles group to see how they compare with the findings on a country-wide basis.

Sound community planning requires

that plans be made not on general needs but on the needs of the community which the program is to serve. Some of the most often quoted studies on leisure-time activities used the check list type of questionnaire. type of questionnaire is highly suggestive.


While it pro­

duces information whieh can be easily tabulated, it predeter­ mines the answer to a large extent.

A questionnaire with a

minimum amount of suggestions would produce results that would give a truer picture.

It was to test this belief that a

combination check list and unguided questions were used in the questionnaire. II. Young people.

DEFINITION OF TERMS.USED Young people was interpreted to mean

young men and young women between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five. Social agencies.

Social agencies throughout this study

was interpreted to mean social agencies, both public and pri­ vate, whose major function is to provide leisure-time activi­ ties. Activity.

The term activity was interpreted in a com­

paratively broad sense.

It referred to a specific activity,

such as playing ball or reading a book.

It also referred to

such things as going to church, attending a lecture, and visiting an art gallery. Leisure.

The term leisure was used to indicate the

time in which an individual is "free from the more obvious and formal duties which a paid job or other obligatory occupation imposes on him. Wish.

Wish was interpreted broadly as that which an

individual desires. Habit.

The term recreation or leisure-time habits refer

George A. Lundberg, Leisure, A Suburban Study (New York: Columbia University Press, 1934)7 P* 2.

to recurring ways of spending one’s leisure to which the in­ dividual turns from some inner impulse rather than because of conscious planning. Interest.

The term interest will be defined in the

chapter on interests and activities. III.


The problem as approached, normally falls into two parts: (1 ) the method of making the study, and (2 ) the analysis of the leisure-time habits and desires of young men and young women.

The findings and conclusions, therefore, will follow

this division, with the exception that each chapter will open with, a statement of the method used therein. Chapter II is devoted to a review of the literature on recreation and leisure-time activities. Chapter III deals with methods of making studies and the sources and method used in this study.

It contains dis­

cussion on developing the questionnaire used. Chapters IV, V, VI, and VII deal with analysis of the information and conclusions derived from the questionnaires. The final chapter is devoted to a summary of.particu­ larly Chapters IV, V, VI, and. VII and conclusions and recom­ mendations growing out of the study as a whole.

CHAPTER II REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE The literature on recreation and leisure-time activities is extensive.

It falls roughly into six classes: (1) litera­

ture dealing with the philosophy of recreation; (2 ) literature hortatory and moralistic in nature which is designed to re­ form; (3) a great body of literature on various sports, games, dances, handicrafts, and the like, written to interest and to inform people about these activities; (4 ) sociological studies of recreation and leisure-time pursuits; {$) studies of recrea­ tion habits of people, made for specific purposes; and (6 ) surveys of recreation facilities.

The difference between

sociological studies of recreation and the studies made for specific purposes lies largely in the fact that the former are more objective and more intensive than the latter.

The find­

ings are usually related to sociological principles and con­ cepts.

The studies made for specific purposes are of a more

practical nature.

They, as a rule, are studies made by

organizations to discover recreational needs and as a basis for planning programs and providing facilities. The study of leisure-time habits of young, people in Los Angeles is somewhat of a hybrid.

It combines some of the

features of both classifications (3) and (4).

The literature

chosen for review falls into both of these classifications.

7 Only those sections of the chosen works which have a hearing on parts of this study will he reviewed. Literature on recreation and leisure-time activities. Lundberg^ and his associates studied the leisure-time pursuits of the people of Westchester County, New York, as they related to the general social and economic life of that area.


sketched in a general way the activities on which people spent their leisure.

They determined the relative importance of

the various activities hy a study of the time spent on each and hy studies of the subjective evaluations attached to the activities hy the participants.

They found that 90 per cent

or more of the leisure-time of all classes (except students) is divided between eight activities, namely, eating, visiting, reading, public entertainment, sports, radio, and motoring and club activities. As the total amount of leisure increases, the pro­ portion spent on eating, sports, radio and motoring tends to decrease while the proportion spent on reading, club and miscellaneous activities tends to increase. The proportion spent on public entertainment tends to remain constant or fluctuates irregularly.2 They concluded that the qualitative variations of the activi­ ties is of greater significance than the quantitative and

1 George A. Lundberg, Mirra Komarovsky, Mary Alice Mclnerny, Leisure: A Suburban Study, pp. 58-125* 2 Ibid.. p. 123.

that the real opportunity for recreation organization lies in the improvement of quality•3 Bell^ attempted to discover the attitudes of young people between sixteen and twenty-four years.

He chose

Maryland youth as being fairly representative of all the youth of America.

While he attempted to study attitudes on

life in general, he did touch on recreation, and since this study was widely quoted in some circles in Los Angeles it has been reviewed for this study. He discovered that youth in a large measure is not able to participate in recreational activities of their choice because of lack of money.

He urges that the state and

the community recognize Its responsibility to youth in the low income families and that they provide a more general equalization of educational, vocational, and recreational opportunities.

He also urges that the development of these

programs be more realistically adjusted to the needs and interests of the youth that they are intended to serve. He points out that the season of the year in which one makes a study affects the answers one receives, for example, in the summer time outdoor activities will get a more promi­ nent place than they would in the winter.

He also calls

Ibid., p. 125. ^ Howard M. Bell, Youth Tell Their Story (Washington, D.C.: American Council on Educ at ion, 19 3^}," 266 pp.

9 attention to the influence available facilities has on youth’s choice of activities. He concludes that there is a need and demand for various types


social recreation.He recommends community

youth centers

which could be started as recreation centers.

Other services, such as consultation on personal problems and vocational guidance, should be gradually added.

He urges

that these eenters ”be built on what is known about what young people want.”5 His study on the whole is good.

It was carefully made

and attempted


reach conclusions*on an objective

and scien­

tific basis.


would have achievedthis end in a

more con­

vincing manner if the author had shown why states and munici­ palities should provide services to equalize opportunities which are a result of an unequal distribution of wealth.


should this problem not be solved by a change in our economic system?

This question arises and throws some suspicion on

the recommendation when one discovers that the study was made for and sponsored by the National Youth Administration. Another omission which weakens the study is the fact that while the author carefully points out the very real observa­ tion that seasons of the year influence answers with regard to activities, he seems not to have realized or been concerned

5 Ibid.. p. 189.

10 with the fact that his study was made during a depression period.

The same study made in 1942, when many youth were

in the armed forces rather than in the community, and others then unemployed found employment in defense industries, would undoubtedly have produced a different result in so far as lack of money is concerned.

The work Youth Tell Their Story

would be more valid, and more scientific and universally true if the author had objectively dealt with these factors. Wrenn,^ in a study called Time on Their Hands, spon­ sored by the National Youth Administration, studied the leisure-time activities of young people.

The critical mind

is somewhat loathe to accept this study because the author does little to indicate how he gathered his data and how he reached his conclusions.

The careful presentation of material

and objective discussion which characterizes the study Youth Tell Their Story is somewhat lacking in this work.


seem to be drawn as much, if not more, from general reading on the subject and a gathering of conclusions from other studies as from original study.

This kind of procedure leads

to generalizations rather than to a discovery of fact and is dangerous to sound social planning. Among the conclusions drawn by Wrenn are: a. that

^ C. Gilbert Wrenn and D. L. Harley, Time on Their Hands (Washington, D.C.: American Council onEducation, 1941), £66 pp.

11 youth should have in a greater degree the following recrea­ tional opportunities; (1 ) to participate in games, sports, and other outdoor activities, (2) for creative experience, (3) for fuller social life, and (4) for recreation at home.7 b. "The principal recreation of two thirds to three fourths of the young people was individual in character, yet the majority wanted more group activity [deduced from Bell’s study, Youth Tell Their Story]?**

"Young people engage so

extensively in solitary recreation activities because there is little else to do."9

e. Youth groups needing more recrea­

tion are rural youth, low-income groups, Negro girls, and the older adolescent (sixteen to twenty-one years) group,


Girls are the largest group of recreationally underprivileged youth,

e. Youth needs guidance to make satisfactory use of

the three media— motion pictures, radio, and reading. The above conclusions like all generalizations ring true because one has heard them or similar statements from other sources.

One, however, hesitates to accept them too

literally because the author does not discuss them fully enough, nor does he present convincing data to support theiiu

7 Ibid., p. 5.


Statement in brackets is that of the writer of this thesis. ^ Wrenn and Harley, op. cit., p. 10.

12 The National Recreation Association^-0 published a re­ port of leisure-time activities and desires of people in the United States.

The object was to discover (1) what people do

in their free time, (2) what changes occurred in the use of free time between 1931 and 1933, and (3) what people would enjoy doing.

The method used in this study was a check list

of ninety-four activities, thirty-seven of which are carried on in the home and fifty-seven of which are carried on out-of­ doors.

The list was designed to discover the variety of

activities engaged in, the frequency with which individuals participated in specific activities, and those activities in which individuals desired to participate. The tabulations showed that participation averaged twenty-five activities per person, twelve of which were in the home and thirteen out-of-door activities.

The average number

of activities frequently participated in was eleven per person, six of which were the home activities and five were outdoor activities. The most common activities were for the most part home activities, inexpensive, indoor, individual, quiet, or passive. The influence of community recreation or educational agencies were not apparent except for swimming and reading. Activities involving music, art, drama, and most games, sports and outing activities were low in the

National Recreation Association, "The Leisure Hours of 5,000 People" (mimeographed; New York: National Recreation Association, 1934), 83 pp.


list of the 94 activities when they were ranked in order of the number taking part in them .11 The ten highest activities ranked according to the largest number participating were: reading newspapers and magazines, listening to the radio, attending movies, visiting or entertaining others, reading books and fiction, auto riding for pleasure, swimming, writing letters, reading non­ fiction, and conversation.

The same ten activities led the

list in order of frequency although the order was somewhat changed. The ten highest ranking in the list of desired activi­ ties were: tennis, swimming, boating, gold, camping, gardening (flowers}, playing musical instruments, auto riding, attending the theatre, and ice skating. Some comparisons of the findings in this study with the findings in the study of leisure-time habits of young people in Los Angeles will be made in the following chapters.


only comment the writer wished to make at this point was to register a thought that a check list may have an undue in­ fluence on the number and kind of activities which get checked as desired activities.

11 Ibid., p. 2.

CHAPTER III SOURCES AND METHODS Of prime importance to any study is the method used and the sources from which information is gleaned*

The ultimate

value of a study, of course, is the use to which the findings are put, but basic to that is the real value— the validity of the conclusions*

Conclusions can be valid only to the extent

that the method and source of information are correct.

It is

for this reason that a great deal of time and thought was ex­ pended in deciding both the sources from which cooperation would be enlisted and the method which would be used in making the study* I.


One of the first problems faeed in making this study was, as nearly as possible, to get a cross section of young people living in the Los Angeles area*

This necessitated reaching

the unemployed as well as the employed*

In the employed groups

it meant reaching people from various educational and economic levels*

It also meant reaching those who participate in

social agency programs and those who do not*

Industry, busi­

ness houses, and employment bureaus offered the best possibility of reaching the desired cross section. The first step in determining the particular groups to

15 approach was to review the labor statistics of California to learn something of the classification of workers and the relative numbers in each classification.

The second step was

to make a cursory study of the groups that would be most likely to cooperate in making the study. The results of this preliminary inquiry led to the decision that department stores, utilities companies, indus­ tries employing large numbers of mechanics, and employment bureaus, flanked by a limited number of people from social agencies and bank employees, would produce a fairly good cross section.

Three department stores, each catering to and

employing a different class of people; three utilities com­ panies employing various types of people; one aircraft indus­ try; one bank; one employment bureau; two social agencies providing group work services and serving different economic groups; and one girls1 housing agency, cooperated in making the study. II.


In preparation for gathering material on the leisure­ time activities various methods were reviewed.

Many factors

were carefully weighed before the decision to use the ques­ tionnaire method was reached.

The more important of these

factors were the time element; the attitude and skill of the individual who was to gather the information; the attitudes

16 of the people to be studied and of the business houses whose cooperation would make the study possible. Survey method. one possibility.

The survey method presented itself as

The type conceived would have involved a

survey of all the leisure-time facilities in and around Los Angeles, and a study of the degree to which they were used. Comparisons of the findings of such a survey with population figures would have provided some idea of what people did in their leisure time. The values of such a study would have been a knowledge of leisure-time possibilities and would have provided a basis of further study as to the adequacy of the leisure-time facili­ ties for the Los Angeles population. desirable for many reasons.

This method seemed un­

Among the most important of them

were: (1 ) the results would have produced reliable information on the use of recreation facilities, which was not within the scope of this study, but it would have produced very little on the recreation habits and desires of the people; (2 ) there would have been no way to discover the number of different individuals who use the facilities.

For example, one may have

been able to discover how many tiekets were sold in motion picture houses over a given length of time but there would no way to discover how often Mr. X attended the movies during that period; (3) the whole matter of leisure time spent in

17 the home or on the streets would have necessitated an addi­ tional study; (4 ) no information would have been obtained on the reasons why people did not use the available facilities. Observation method.

The observation method, either

participant or nonparticipant method, of studying the leisure­ time habits of people had much in its favor.

The investigator,

by observing individuals over a period of time, could obtain more accurate information than by questioning them.

He could

observe and record activities which seem to the informant too trivial to mention.

He could also record the time spent on

each in a more accurate manner than individuals themselves would do.

Observation and frequent recordings would overcome

the problem of not getting a record of activities performed but which individuals do not remember when questioned about their leisure time.

Newstetter^ used the observation method

in his study of the group adjustments of the boys at Wawokiye Camp. The observation method, however, becomes a practical impossibility when the project calls for a study of the leisure-time habits of a large number of people, who for the most part have no connection with one another aside from

1 Wilbur I. Newstetter, M. J. Feldstein and T. M. Newcomb, Croup Adjustment (Cleveland: Western Reserve University, 193$), 150 pp.

18 living in the same city.

The method is practical when the

study is made of one group who live and play together as in a camp or in an institution.

It was impractical for this

study. Interview method.

The interview method, like the ob­

servation method, has possibilities for producing information about leisure-time habits which would not readily be obtained by other methods.

The interview method may also bring forth

information on attitudes towards activities which would not otherwise be obtained.

It provides a means of probing into

subjective factors which influence leisure-time activities and biased answers.

Otherwise prosaic and colorless answers

are enriched by facial or body expressions and inflections of the voice.

These, the interviewer can catch and interpret.

The problems of the interview method for a city-wide study are many and varied. an adequate sample.

An important one is that of finding

The time necessary for interviews of

large numbers of people becomes prohibitive.

If a compara­

tively small number of people is to be interviewed the problem of finding typical persons is extremely difficult.

Among the

dangers inherent in the interview method are: (1 ) unless great care is exercised by the interviewer the informant may go off on a tangent due to the powers of association.

The imagina­

tive person repeatedly may have to be brought back to the main

line of thought; (2) the shy or suspicious person may center his attention on the interviewer and reply in terms of what he thinks the interviewer wants rather than in an objective manner; (3) the first impression the informant forms of the interviewer may color the entire interview; (4) taking notes during an interview, in all probability, will affect the shy or suspicious person and will influence the answers; (5) a productive interview in which no notes are taken requires an excellent memory on the part of the interviewer; (6) only the most objective and experienced of interviewers who is thor­ oughly aware of his own prejudices and biases ean conduct an interview without influencing the informant by his own choice of words, gestures, and voice inflections, and can later record the interview without misinterpretation. The length of time required in making interviews, the difficulty in getting consent of people to submit to an in­ terview, and the lack of skill in the use of this method by the person making this study preoluded the use of this method. The questionnaire method.

The questionnaire method,

like the other methods considered, has its advantages and disadvantages.

By use of a questionnaire larger numbers of

people can be reached in a given length of time than by any other method.

The material obtained can more easily be

20 classified and tabulated.

Another advantage of this method

is that it is impersonal in nature in that it avoids the stimulus of personal contact and has greater possibilities of preserving the anonymity of the informant.2 Among its disadvantages may be listed: (1) the wide use of questionnaires has created something of a mind set against answering them on the part of people who receive num­ bers of them; (2) the very fact that they are impersonal and that the sender is usually unknown to the prospective in­ formant operates against compliance with the request to fill' out the questionnaire; (3) it is difficult to frame questions so that all informants will interpret them in the same way; (4) the length of most questionnaires together with the necessary instructions often discourages people and produces an unwillingness to answer them; (3) there is little or no opportunity of a follow-up of answers which are not clear, or which open new vistas. Preliminary discussions with some of the leading busi­ nessmen indicated that questionnaires which could be filled out in a comparatively short time and which could be answered anonymously, would have the best opportunity of getting the cooperation of both employers and employees.

This, plus the

George A. Lundberg, Social Research (Longmans* Social Science Series; New York: Longmans, Green and Company, 1929), p. 130.

21 fact tliat the person who was to gather the information for the study was more skilled in working with the questionnaire method than in interviewing, led to the decision to use the questionnaire method* III.


Having reached a decision to use the questionnaire method, the next problem to be solved was the type of ques­ tionnaire to be devised*

To be successful, it had to be

attractive enough to make people want to answer it*


questionnaires are formidable lists of questions without a line or word to make them attractive*

The one to be designed

had to be interesting; it had to produce information about what people do and want to do— not an affirmation of what somebody thinks they do or what they would like them to do* This meant that suggestibility had to be kept to a minimum. Various types of questionnaires were examined, and a number of recreation studies and interest finder devices were reviewed. , Some of them were four or five printed pages of questions.

The very length of them seemed to militate

against getting them answered*

The shorter and more enticing

ones were lists of activities which required only a check mark for the activities in which the informant participated or desired to participate.

This type of questionnaire was

22 used in the study of "The Leisure Hours of 5,000 People."3 It listed ninety-four activities, thirty-seven of which were activities carried on in the home and fifty-seven activities which are performed outside. checking.

Three columns were provided for

Activities participated in occasionally were to

be cheeked in one column; those engaged in often were to be i * checked in a second column; and the activities desired but not participated in were to be checked in a third.

This type

of questionnaire has been used for many studies most of whieh have been made for specific local groups and have not been published.

One of the major advantages of this type of list

is that it does not take long to check the list.

Another is

that it calls to mind activities engaged in but which may not readily be remembered.

A third is that the answers can

easily be classified and tabulated. This type of questionnaire was considered for the study of the leisure-time habits of young people in Los Angeles, but was not used because of some of its inherent disadvantages, the chief of which was the amount of suggestibility it holds in checking activities desired.

The check list is very good

in obtaining information on activities participated in.


advantage of calling activities to mind in this instance is desirable.

However, other questions arise if facilities are

^ National Recreation Association, "The Leisure Hours of 5,000 People," 83 pp.

to be provided in a community on the basis of the activities checked as desired. these activities?

To what extent do people really want Did they look attractive at the moment?

Why don't they participate in them?

These questions have

long been of interest to the writer, who from time to time has made observations and informal studies of them.


observations and studies have shown that nearly all people have a slight interest in certain activities.

It is enough

to make the individual say he would like to participate in the activities, but it is not deep enough to call forth the effort necessary to do so.

Often participation in such

activities means a choice between two or more; and the one of lesser interest, although desired, loses out. situation are numerous. says she likes swimming.

Examples of this

One individual known to the writer She periodically buys a swimming

suit and goes in the water once or twice, then discards the suit and goes off to other things because the effort of getting dressed and drying her hair is too great.

Another says he

would like to go horseback riding, but he finds all sorts of excuses when his friends ask him to go with them for a ride. Recently, five individuals, all of whom repeatedly said they wished to go to Mexico, were urged to accompany some friends who were making the trip.

-None of them went , but did other

things which were equally expensive and equally time consuming. Another individual bought a piano four years ago because she

24 wanted to learn to play* untouched.

The piano stands in the living room

Several years ago a study was made of the recrea­

tion desires of two thousand young people in Los Angeles. study showed a great need for a ,fco-ed” camp.


The camp was

established and widely advertised but not enough campers registered to open it for even one week’s period. Questions, such as "What do you do for your recreation?” "What games do you play out-of-doors?” and "What games do you play indoors?” were used in some of the first attempts at studying the recreation habits of people.

Such questions

bring with them problems of classifying the activities which result from such questions.

Sorokin and Berger^ in their

study, Time-Budgets of Human Behavior, ; encountered this diffi­ culty but believed the results were worth the extra effort it cost in working through the problem.

In the opinion of the

^writer, the type of question which leaves the individual free to answer in his own way is a sounder research procedure than the one designed with the view to easy classification and tabulation.

Another shortcoming of such questions is the

danger that informants will not call to mind all of the activi­ ties in which they do participate.

This fact would be disas­

trous to studies which attempted to get an accurate picture of

^ Pitirim A. Sorokin and Clarence Q. Berger, TimeBudgets of Human Behavior (Harvard Sociological Studies, Vol. ll. Oxford: Harvard University Press, 1939), p. 27.

25 all types of activities engaged in by the informants.


check list of activities, although it is no sure proof of getting an accurate list, does have the advantage of calling activities to mind. The advantages and disadvantages of both the unguided question and the check list type were weighed in relation to the objectives of the study.

It was thought of as a study of

recreation habits rather than a study of the number of differ­ ent types of activities engaged in.

Since habits involve

repetition of activities, it was believed that the study of habitual activities would not be materially lessened if those less often participated in were not listed.

Another considera­

tion was that the study was more concerned with types of activities than a list of all specific activities or varia­ tions of activities.

Specific activities and variations of

each type of activity prevalent at a given time changes from year to year, depending upon fads, amount of advertising done by manufacturers of recreation equipment and games, and the publicity given to activities by commercial recreation houses. Economic and social factors also greatly influence the popu­ larity of specific activities.

Some examples of fads in

activities are: the rise and fall of miniature golf, the popularity of ping pong when it was first introduced, and the popularity of mah-jong two decades ago and more recently of Chinese checkers.

Many recreation activities popular during

the past decade will change during the next few years due to war conditions.

The rubber shortage and automobile rationing

will affect activities involving automobile travel,

lew forms

of recreation will develop around defense activities.


ing the rather rapid change in the specific activities, it seems of greater value to people responsible for developing recreation programs and providing equipment to know what types of activities bring satisfaction.

The wise recreation leader

will use types of activities as a basis for supplying equipment and will develop programs of specific activities around the type but in accordance with the influencing economic, social, and psychological factors of the times, and of the specific group for which they are intended. It was believed that check lists give the impression of regular participation in a wider range of activities than is true.

It was also recognized that unguided questions, such

as "What do you do for recreation?" in all probability would produce an inadequate picture.

A combination of the two types

of questions, it was believed, would produce the best results. The unguided questions would bring forth the activities habitually engaged in and the check list would supplement these with the less popular but nevertheless enjoyed activities. Since the study was to be one of discovering recreation habits and since its success would depend on the willingness of the informant to say what he enjoyed doing, an attempt was

mad© to create an attitude of enjoyment and a spirit of fun. The questionnaire to this end was made comparatively short and clear enough to obviate the necessity of instructions. designed to take on the aspects of a game.

It was

Preliminary tests

were made in several groups before the final questionnaire was produced.5

Questionnaires were given to heads of depart­

ments of the cooperating business houses and soeial agencies to distribute and collect in their own way, at their conveni­ ence.

They were asked to make sure that the questionnaires

would reach a cross section of the types of people working in their establishments and that as far as possible the distribu­ tion would be made to people under thirty-five years of age. The response in all cases was good, but the 962 returned questionnaires did contain 193 filled out by men and women over thirty-five years of age.

This occurrence presented two prob­

lems: since the study was to be of leisure-time habits of people under thirty-five, should the 193 questionnaires be disregarded? true picture?

Would the remaining 769 be sufficient to give a The questionnaires from men and women over

thirty-five years of age were tabulated and are presented as a high light and supplementary material to the study of the habits of the younger group.

Tabulating them helped to answer

the question as to what constituted a fair sample.


^ Copy of questionnaire will be found in the Appendix.

showed that, in general, there is comparatively little differ­ ence in the leisure-time habits of people within a given age and sex group.

Incidentally, the above-thirty-five and

below-thirty-five age groups were each broken into subgroupings for purposes of tabulation and further analysis.

The age

groupings were eighteen to twenty-four years; twenty-five to thirty-four years; thirty-five to forty-four years; and over forty-five years. separately.

Activities for each sex were tabulated

The fair sample question was further tested by

tabulating the age and sex groups according to the firm or organization through which the informant cooperated in the study.

The test showed that as few as eighteen or twenty

people of the same age gave practically the same rating to the different types of activities as did three hundred, ex­ cept for such specialized activities as outdoor life and music.

Outdoor life meant such things as camping, hunting,

and going to mountain resorts.

Most outdoor activities were

classified as picnics and sports. four sections of the questionnaire dealt with activi­ ties.

Three of them were unguided questions and one was a

check list.

One section asked for activities carried on in

the out-of-doors; another covered indoor activities; a third asked for the activities engaged in most often during the month preceding the date the questionnaire was answered. The fourth, a check list, was designed to indicate the

29 frequency with which specific activities were engaged in— occasionally or often.

The tabulation of the four sections

brought out the problem of duplication.

Many activities

appeared in at least two places and some were listed in three sections.

Should each activity be cleared so that it was

counted only once? as it appeared?

Should each activity be counted as often

The latter practice offered a qualitative

possibility and was followed in making the study.

The activi­

ties which were listed in the unguided questions and which appeared again among those "most often participated in during the past month” served to weight the activities which were checked in the check list.

This assumption was strengthened

by the fact that only those activities which were significant enough to the individual to be remembered without the aid of a check list appeared in the unguided questions.


whieh were listed in several places indicated something of the number of times they were participated in, and this number was interpreted as a clue to the popularity of the activity. The questionnaire yielded a variety of activities which were classified under fourteen headings.

The classifications

used were: general sports; water sports; spectator sports; picnics; nature lore and outdoor life; motoring and travel; indoor games; sociability; arts, crafts, and hobbies; music; cultural and educational activities; relaxation; household tasks, and passive entertainment.

The number of classifications

could have been reduced; for example, all types of sports activities could have been listed under one heading.

It was

believed, however, that the above arrangement would be more useful in analyzing activities for purposes of program building.

A list of activities classified under each heading

will be found in the Appendix.^ IV.


In an attempt to get a cross section of young people, it was decided to reach them through occupational groups rather than through other sources.

To this end, the coopera­

tion of business houses, industrial firms, and an employment bureau was obtained. An examination of various methods of social research and some preliminary tests led to developing a comparatively short questionnaire which required no accompanying instructions. The questionnaire was divided into ten sections each designed to obtain different but related information.

The questionnaire

was illustrated with pictures and music to make it more in­ teresting to prospective informants.

It combined check lists

and unguided questions as a supplement to each other. The unguided questions complicated the work of tabulating, but they provided a means of verifying the check list type of question and added to the richness of the information obtained.

6 gee Appendix, pp. 117-118.

The questionnaire on the whole was satisfactory.


reproducing it, however, the writer would give more attention to both the check list of activities and the check list of interests.

Somewhat longer lists in each case would make

better comparisons possible.

Similarly the list of activities

used as a tests of distances travelled could be improved. More activities should be added to make this part of the study more significant.

CHAPTER IV LEISURE-TIME ACTIVITIES To understand the importance of leisure-time activities to man in the present day society, it is necessary to recognize that they are an inextricable part of his life.

They are the

activities in which he can most freely express his personality and through which he can live most fully. In this day of specialization few people find opportuni­ ties for satisfying, creative self-expression in their daily work.

Modern methods of business and industry have reduced

most work to routines which are devoid of opportunity for imagination and creative self-expression on the part of the worker.

The average man must, for the most part, look to his

leisure hours to do those things which round out his experi­ ences and which fulfill his desires for adventure, new ex­ perience, sociability, love, physical activity, creative activity, intellectual pursuits, and the like. Man's leisure hours are those in which he is most free to do as he chooses.

It is during these hours that he has

the opportunity to develop his varied interests and abilities which give meaning and richness to his life. musical pursuits if he so desires. beauties in nature.-

He may follow

He may seek and find the

He may find joy in sheer physical exercise.

He may find satisfaction in the company of other people.


33 may express himself in giving service to others.

Many indi­

viduals who possess leadership ability make their greatest contribution to society during their leisure hours. In a democratic society leisure-time activities have an added significance, for it is in them that the social process, for the majority of people, has its freest reign. In their leisure, individuals are free from the control of business and industrial authorities.

They, as a rule, asso­

ciate with others who are on the same social and economic level as themselves.

They are on an equal footing with their

associates and feel free to express themselves. dominate or submit to domination as they desire.

They may In such an

atmosphere, reciprocal influencing takes place more readily and is more lasting than in a situation where some members of the group enjoy a higher social or economic standing than others.

Individuals, who at work must carry out routine jobs

laid down by others, may, after working hours, be active mem­ bers or even leaders in civic groups which wield a powerful pressure in the community.

They may be regular participants

in forums which mold public opinion, or they may to a lesser degree help to mold public opinion by participation in small informal groups in which attitudes towards social measures are developed.

It is during their leisure hours and as part of

their leisure-time activities that many people take part in social action and make their best contribution to the

34 community*

As pointed out by Eduard Lindeman, rulers of

totalitarian states have embraced leisure as an integral part of their program.-*-

Their purpose in doing so was twofold.

First, by providing a leisure-time program, they could control the social process taking place.

Second, they could use the

program for purposes of propaganda. Although the individual, during his leisure hours, is free to do as he chooses and he has the opportunity for the full development of his interests and abilities, there are many factors which keep him from doing so or which at least dictate the way in which he shall do it. culture pattern of his group.

One of these is the

The mores and folkways of the

group in a large measure determine the activities in which he shall participate and what form these activities shall take. The part mores play is clearly demonstrated in the lives of women*

Not more than fifty years ago many activities, such

as active sports, attending publie dance halls, drinking, smoking, political activities, and even sight-seeing and trav­ eling unescorted, were accepted for men but frowned upon for women.

Today women may take part in these activities in most

communities without loss of respect. Inventions, increased wealth, increased leisure hours and the attendant changes in modes of living continually

^ Eduard C. Lindeman, Leisure. A National Issue (New York: Association Press, 1939), p. 11.*"

affect leisure-time activities.

The development of the motion

picture industry, the automobile, and the radio all have changed leisure-time habits.

These changes like those in mores

and folkways are comparatively slow and the dropping of old activities and the acceptance of the new, due to these de­ velopments, is a relatively slow process.

Other social and

economic factors serve to create faster changes.

An ambi­

tious manufacturer who develops a new type of game and follows it up with widespread advertising creates a desire for the game, with the result that playing it becomes a fad which flares up for a time and dies away as quickly as it developed. Similarly in local communities a successful leader or an out­ standing group may create a following for certain activities during a given season* Depressions, booms, and wars likewise affect leisure­ time activities.

Business booms may put more money into the

hands of the average individual.

This will be reflected in

the amount of money he spends on recreation and will give him an opportunity to do things he could not do before. sions have the opposite effect.


Because of lack of money

people seek less expensive types of recreation.

The present

war with the need to conserve rubber is affecting the leisure­ time activities of people all over the United States.

It has

an especially great effect upon the people in Southern California who are accustomed to traveling great distances to


People everywhere are being forced to forego the

pleasure of the very popular Sunday or holiday long auto­ mobile trip.

The longer vacation automobile trips, as well as

traveling by boat or train, are being affected and may have to be postponed until conditions change.

Beaches along the

California shores are no longer safe play areas.


parties, boating, and ocean swimming, as long as there is danger from submarine gun fire, will have to be ehanged to safer inland activities.

War needs are demanding that both

men and women give up many of their regular recreation activi­ ties to participate in various types of civilian defense activities. In addition to these larger forces, individuals are influenced in their form of recreation and choiee of activi­ ties, by their associates, by availability of recreation facilities, and by the amount of money they have to spend for recreation.

Man is a social creature and "cannot exist with­

out social contacts and without expression of common inter-



He derives joy and a sense of security from the

fellowship of others, and being with them he is influenced in what he does by their desires and their interests.

This in­

fluencing may be apparent to him, but more often is an

2 Grace Coyle, Social Process in Organized Groups (Contemporary Society Series. Mew York: kiehard Smith, Inc., 1930), p. 11.

unconscious almost automatic reaction to his associates*


Finney speaks of "the tendency of human minds to learn from one another through a sort of semipassive mentation that results naturally from the social p r o c e s s . T h i s same semipassive mentation is at work in the individual’s arrival at a choice of his leisure-time activities.

Another factor, of course, is

the fact that many activities require the participation of others.

If an individual wishes to participate in an activity,

he must find others who desire the same activity, or he must persuade others to share in the activity with him.

The domi­

nating person will nearly always determine the activity for his associates.

The weaker individual will habitually accept

the suggestion of others.

The average person, however, will

rotate between suggesting and accepting suggestions. The facilities available for leisure-time activities, for the most part, are outside the control of the individual. Facilities available in the home while under his control are a matter of economic ability.

The individual with an adequate

income may secure what he wants or needs.

The individual with

a very low income may secure what he wants or needs.

The in­

dividual with a very low income is dependent upon the community to supply facilities for him.

He may, of course, manage to get

3 Ross L. Finney, Sociological Philosophy of Education (Modern Teachers Series. New York: The Macmillan"lTompany, 1928), preface p. v.

things like a modest garden, a radio, some reading material, and perhaps even a broken down secondhand car at the expense of clothing and proper food.

Large recreation facilities,

such as baseball diamonds, tennis courts, handball courts, picnic grounds, swimming pools, and club houses are conceded to be the concern of the community.

An adequate supply of

them and the proper distribution of them throughout the com­ munity is a matter of good social planning.

The natural re­

sources, climate and location of a community also determine the availability and desirability of certain facilities.


tunate is the community which is located near lakes, mountains, woods, or the ocean.

With good transportation these resources

become important leisure-time facilities. The economic factor in the choice of leisure-time activi­ ties is so obvious that little need be said about it.


few exceptions, people develop leisure-time habits within the scope of their economic means.

People with low incomes as a

rule have meager recreational outlets, while those with large incomes participate in a much wider range of recreational activities. The satisfactions and values derived by these two widely different groups are not as different as might first be sus­ pected.

The individual who has always lived on a small income

learns to derive satisfactions from less expensive forms of recreation.

His cultural gain* unless he chooses very wisely,

39 will not be as great as those of his economically more for­ tunate fellowmen, but as a rule his cultural interests have not been so highly developed and he does not feel the loss. The individual who suffers the greatest dissatisfaction is the person who once had a large income and suddenly loses it. He is at a loss to fincb satisfaction in his leisure-time pursuits until he rehabilitates himself and learns to find joy and beauty in simple or less expensive things.

One need

only to look about him to see that many people who have money do not always spend it wisely.

Much money is spent by this

group on activities in expensive night clubs or other lavish forms of recreation which have little in them to supply inner satisfaction to the participant.

On the other hand, it is

possible with a comparatively little expenditure of money and a proper use of community facilities, such as libraries, museums, parks, free lectures and concerts, playgrounds, and community centers, to augment the leisure-time activities carried on in the home in a way that is highly satisfactory. The need for man to live wholly and completely is be­ coming better understood,1as is the part leisure-time activi­ ties play in making this possible.

Gradually communities are

recognizing the need for and the value of making available a variety of wholesome leisure-time facilities and programs for their total population.

The study of the leisure-time habits

and desires of young people in Los Angeles was undertaken as a eheck on the progress of Los Angeles in supplying such

40 facilities and programs. I.


As was indicated in Chapter III, the questionnaires answered by young people, yielded a variety of activities which were classified under fourteen headings.

The classi­

fications used were: general sports, water sports, spectator sports, picnics, nature lore and outdoor life, motoring and travel, indoor games, sociability, arts and crafts and hobbies, musie, cultural and educational activities, relaxa­ tion, household tasks, and passive entertainment.

The classi­

fications were set up in a way which seemed most helpful to organizations interested in program building and whichjwould provide some indication of the kinds of facilities needed. Table I ranks the olassifications according to number of times activities under each classification were listed. Each listing of an activity was considered as one count for the heading under which the activity was classified.


classification with the highest number of counts was ranked as 1, the next highest, 2, and so on. It is significant to program building in leisure-time agencies that in Los Angeles, where the weather permits yearround outdoor activities, general sports rank highest of all types of activities for young men and young women. comparatively high place for all ages.

It holds a

This finding compares



Age Sex General sports Sociability Educational and cultural Passive entertain­ ment Motoring and travel Picnics Water sports Relaxarion Spectator sports Indoor games Nature lore and outdoor life Arts, crafts, hobbies Music Household tasks

All ages 18 to 24 25 to 34 35 to 44 45 and over F M F M F M M F M F 1 2

1 2

1 2

1 2

1 2

1 2

3 2

3 2

4 3

5 1





















5 6 7 8 9 9

5 6 9 8 7 11

5 6 7 8 9 10

5 6 7 9 8 10

5 6 8 10 11 7

5 6 9 8 12 7

6 7 9 5 10 8

5 7 13 9 11 6

3 5 6 8 6 7

4 8 12 7 11 8











11 12 13

10 12 14

13 12 14

12 13 14

12 13 14

10 11 14

10 4 7

8 10 14

5 10 7

6 10 13

42 favorably with that of Lundberg in his study of Westchester County, New York, made in 1934*

In a discussion on the organi­

zation of leisure he says: A ranking of the replies to the question, "What are your principal forms of recreation in order of their frequency?" revealed that outdoor activities, athletic games, tennis, golf, hunting and fishing, walking, swimming, picnicking, and motoring occur among the first dozen item on the list,4 The study of leisure hours of five thousand people on a country-wide basis, made by the National Recreation Associa­ tion, differs somewhat from the findings of the Westchester and the Los Angeles studies.

It indicates that games, sports

and outing activities, although ranking high in desired activities "are reported by relatively few people and the number who take part in them is proportionately small."'*


a means of calling attention to the dangers of comparing studies made in different places by different people, it should be noted that both the Westchester and the Los Angeles studies, while approaching the problem differently, gave con­ sideration to the frequency of participation in arriving at the ranking for activities.

The National Recreation Associa­

tion, on the other hand, ranked the activities according to

^ George A. Lundberg, Mirra Komarovsky, and M. A. Mclnerny, Leisure. A Suburban Study. p. 81.


National Recreation Association, "A Study of the Leisure Hours of 5,000 People," p. 12.

43 the number of individuals who engaged in a given activity with­ out regard to the frequency of participation.

Discovering the

popularity of an activity by counting the number of times it is performed and arriving at its popularity by a count of the number of people who participate in it are both valid methods, but they show different things and should not be compared. Activities engaged in for the sake of sociability, such as visiting with friends, chatting, dancing, and entertaining friends, ranks a close second.

Their high degree of popularity

corroborates the statement that man is a social creature and cannot exist without social contacts and without expression of common interests.^

It coincides with Lundberg*s findings.


found that: . . . the satisfactions of the gregarious cravings, the simple informal, everyday associations still centering largely in the home and consisting chiefly of primary human contacts— the multitude of little activities which in the aggregate we call sociability— these occupy today as perhaps in the past, most of the leisure of a people.7 It is noteworthy that educational and cultural activi­ ties ranked third for those under thirty-five, and that it rose to first place for people over thirty-five.

This may be

due in part to the fact that going to church was considered an activity and was classified under this heading.

^ Cf. ante, p. 36. 7 Lundberg, 0£. cit., p. 365.


44 one third to one half of all informants listed churchgoing as one of their activities. Movies, theaters, broadcasts, and listening to the radio, all of which constitutes a passive participation in entertain­ ment, consistently held fourth place with all age groups under forty-five.

This type of activity rose to third place for

women over forty-five and to second place for men over fortyfive.

These findings, particularly when compared by age groups

with the ranking of sports which require physical activity and the ranking of sociability and educational and cultural activi­ ties which are of a less active nature, indicate that as people grow older they lose interest in the activities which require physical exertion and become more interested in the quiet type of activity. Somewhat lower in participation count but ranking next in popularity came motoring and travel, with picnics ranking next and following motoring quite closely in actual count. The other types of activities did not rank as consistently the same for both men and women as did those mentioned above. Table II gives a somewhat more qualitative picture of the importance of the ranking shown in Table I, page 41*


shows the actual participation count by age and sex for each classification. The figures in Table II show comparatively little dif­ ference in the popularity of sports and the activities



Age All ages 18 to 24 25 to 34 35 to 44 45 and over M Sex M F F M F F M M F 16 35 Number of informants 368 594 217 299 92 161 43 99 General sports' SociabilityEducational and cultural Passive enter­ tainment Motoring and travel Picnics Water sports Relaxation Spectator sports Indoor games Nature lore and outdoor life Arts, crafts, hobbies Music Household tasks