Quality of experience and risk perception in high-altitude rock climbing
Delle Fave, A.; Bassi, M.; Massimini, F.
Journal of Applied Sport Psychology 15(1): 82-98
Six climbers were monitored during an expedition in the Himalaya, comprising 13 days of traveling and 26 days of mountaineering. The aim was the investigation of the quality of experience and risk perception associated with high-altitude rock climbing. By means of experience sampling method, participants provided on-line repeated self-reports about activities carried out, and the associated quality of the experience, in terms of mood, intrinsic motivation, potency, confidence, engagement, and risk assessment. The experience fluctuation model was applied to identify experiential profiles on the basis of the perception of environmental challenges and personal skills. When both challenges and skills were positive, flow experience was reported. In particular, we found that the opportunity for experiencing flow can motivate climbers to take part in a risky expedition. The results showed that risk played a minor role in climbing, in line with a goal-directed approach to risk seeking. These findings have two implications: (a) Studies on motivation in sport should distinguish between risk and search for challenges and opportunities for action, especially in dealing with extreme sports; (b) In the recreational domain, outdoor programs, among other things, should aim at providing opportunities for flow and personal development.