Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Dissertation


Play--Social aspects--China; Play--Social aspects--China--Hong Kong; Play--Social aspects--United States; Young adults--China--Attitudes; Young adults--China--Hong Kong--Attitudes; Young adults--United States--Attitudes;


The purpose of this study was to examine play among emerging adults in the People Republic of China, Hong Kong, and the United States. The primary purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between the respondents' perceptions of play and their personal cultural orientation. The study also explored the relationship between respondents' perceptions of play's importance and their cultural orientation. Respondents' frequency of play was also studied to determine whether there were relationships between frequency of play, countries of origin, and personal cultural orientation. Finally, the study considered the interactive effects among perceptions of play, play's importance, personal cultural orientation, and countries of origin. The study was organized as a non-experimental research design.

Written questionnaires were distributed to 322 respondents. A total of 301 completed instruments were return, which yielded a 93.4 % response rate. Data were collected from students who were enrolled in physical education, recreation and leisure courses during the 2010-2011 academic years at the University of Northern Iowa in the U.S. (n=139), Zhejiang University in the PRC (n=70), and the Community College of City University of Hong Kong in HK (n=92).

The research instrument in the present study was a self-reported questionnaire that was divided into six main sections: (a) perceptions of play; (b) frequency of play; (c) frequencies of play; (d) personal cultural orientation; (e) criteria for reaching adulthood; and (f) demographics.

Play was important for emerging adults in this study for the following reasons: (a) for socialization, (b) for relaxation, (c) to challenge skill and ability, (d) to express emotion, (e) to expend energy, (f) to establish identity, (g) to develop mature interpersonal relationships, and (h) for development. This study demonstrated that personal cultural orientations have significant effects on perceptions of play and play's importance. Moreover, more females than males perceived play as creativity, expression, and learning. Female emerging adults were: (a) more focused on social status, respect, wealth, rights, and privileges (POW); (b) unwilling to take risks (RSK); and (c) tolerant of ambiguity and uncertain situations (AMB) than were male respondents.

This research found that emerging adults identified perceptions of play within four categories: (a) intrinsic goal/outcome benefits; (b) intrinsic non goal/outcome benefits; (c) relationship non goal/outcome benefits; and (d) relationship non goal/outcome benefits. Emerging adults perceived play's importance within four categories: (a) for development and socialization; (b) for relaxation; (c) to establish identity; and (d) for expression. Emerging adults in HK perceived team sports, social activities, and card games as the most frequent activities they engaged in during play. Emerging adults in HK indicated that all activities they engaged in during play involved other people. In addition, emerging adults in the PRC perceived team sports, entertainment, and travel as the most frequent activities they engaged in during play. The results of this study have added to the body of knowledge related to Chinese definitions of play and play benefits for emerging adults. The study suggest the need for additional research to gain a greater understanding of Chinese definitions of play and the benefits of play for emerging adults in different countries.

Year of Submission


Year of Award

2011 Award

Degree Name

Doctor of Education


School of Health, Physical Education, and Leisure Services

First Advisor

Christopher Edginton, Co-Chair

Second Advisor

Kathleen School, Co-Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (xi, 223 pages)



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