Date of Award

8-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management

Advisor

Baldwin, Elizabeth D

Committee Member

Powell , Robert B

Committee Member

Bhattacharyya , Gautam

Abstract

While a positive correlation has been illustrated between peak experiences in outdoor recreation and self-actualization, there has been little to no research on the detailed components of peak experiences that might influence self-actualization. The purpose of this study was to explore individuals' perceptions of peak experiences in outdoor recreation and their potential influence on the process of self-actualization. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 13 criteria recruited participants that had a long experiential history with outdoor recreation. A phenomenological approach was used to explore the essence of the peak experience as well as perceptions of self-actualization, as described by each participant. The study found several characteristics and triggers of peak experiences that were common amongst participants. The results revealed many participants' peak experiences include some form of discomfort, challenge, risk, physical exertion, flow, and natural beauty in a social group. Peak experiences in outdoor recreation were also found to influence individual's perception of self-actualization by encouraging a shift in perceived needs, and through the building of confidence and composure. This study demonstrates that outdoor recreation activities can be practiced to better facilitate peak experiences individuals perceive to influence the process of self-actualization.

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