Animating Recreation Experiences through Face-to-Face Leadership: Efficacy of Two Models


  • Terry Long
  • Gary Ellis
  • Eric Trunnell
  • Kevin Tatsugawa
  • Patti Freeman


Despite over a century of recognition of the potential impact of recreation leadership on experiences and development of participants, few attempts have been made to integrate knowledge about human motivation, learning, and experience into specific strategies for “animating” activities (i.e., putting an activity into motion and sustaining the action over the course of the experience; Rossman, 1995). In response to the need for this integration, an experiment was conducted to determine the effects of different behavioral science-based models of leading a recreation activity on pleasure, self-efficacy, ego-protective attributions, and creativity. The two models were the COMPLEX model (Ellis, Morris, & Trunnell, 1995) and a model proposed by Bishop and Jeanrenaud (1991), each of which specify a sequence of behaviors that leaders can use to create targeted outcomes. Participants consisted of 73 undergraduate university students, and the recreation activity context was storytelling. The activity was conducted under four conditions: (1) COMPLEX model, designed to elicit enjoyment (CE), (2) COMPLEX model, designed to elicit pleasure (CP), (3) Bishop and Jeanrenaud model, directed at facilitating creative production (CR), and, (4) Bishop and Jeanrenaud model, highly directive approach. The HD condition provided a baseline for comparing effects of the other treatments. Results showed that use of the CE, CP, and CR models promoted pleasure and self-efficacy level. Implications of these results for recreation leadership include the following:1) Use novelty at the beginning of an activity to generate interest.2) Increase participants’ confidence in their ability to successfully participate in the activity by modeling the activity and pointing out that people who are much like them usually are successful.3) Keep participants involved in the activity by increasing or decreasing the complexity of the activity (change rules, add or delete ingredients, reformulate teams, etc.).4) During the course of the activity, use verbal persuasion messages that are personalized (e.g., “You are good at this!”) rather than ambiguous (e.g., “Nice job!”).5) Feedback during the course of the activity that encourages divergent thinking can be used to promote pleasure and self-efficacy (e.g., “What are some other ways of doing this?”).6) If your intent is to help individuals learn about themselves through an activity, consider edifying the activity through processing. During or after the activity (as appropriate), you might ask such questions as “What is the most important thing you learned about yourself while doing this activity?” or “Before we started this activity, did you expect to be successful? Why or why not?”





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