Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management


Denise M. Anderson

Committee Member

Robert J. Barcelona

Committee Member

Sandra M. Linder

Committee Member

Francis A. McGuire


Two fundamental characteristics of emerging adulthood, the developmental period coinciding with 18-25 years of age, are identity development and freedom. An individual’s identity development, or identity status, is understood as the juxtaposition of identity exploration and identity commitment and can act as the basis by which to compare motivations and behaviors (e.g., well-being, healthy use of time) across emerging adults. The present research sought to understand a basic tenet of freedom, perception of leisure-free time, among American college-attending emerging adults (n=565) with distinctive identity statuses. The perception of free time may be understood as a function of identity development among emerging adults, and may help explain measures of well-being during this developmental period. Using quantitative analyses (e.g., hierarchical cluster analyses, mediation analyses, multiple analyses of variance), the findings of the research support the hypothesis that identity, well-being, and perception of free time are intertwined during emerging adulthood. Those working with emerging adults in college health and recreation settings should consider the impact of identity development and the perception of free time when creating and implementing programming and marketing campaigns. Further research is needed to understand the interrelationships between identity, well-being, and use of leisure-free time during emerging adulthood.