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

2003


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.

JOURNAL
OF
APPLIED
SPORT
PSYCHOLOGY,
15:
82-98,
2003
Copyright
©
2003
by
the
Association
for
Advancement
of
Applied
Sport
Psychology
1041-3200/03
$12.00
+
.00
DOI:10.1080/10413200390180080
Taylor
&
Franci
s
Quality
of
Experience
and
Risk
Perception
in
High-Altitude
Rock
Climbing
ANTONELLA
DELLE
FAVE,
MARTA
BASSI,
AND
FAUSTO
MASSIMINI
University
degli
Studi
di
Milano
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
expe-
rience
and
risk
perception
associated
with
high-altitude
rock
climbing.
By
means
of
experi-
ence
sampling
method, participants
provided
on-line
repeated
self-reports
about
activities
car-
ried
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
chal-
lenges
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
fmdings
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
do-
main,
outdoor
programs,
among
other
things,
should
aim
at
providing
opportunities
for
flow
and
personal
development.
Rock
climbing
is
a
recreational
activity
that
presents
structural
components
of
real
or
per-
ceived
danger
in
which
the
participants
have
to
cope
with
an
uncertain
outcome
by
means
of
personal
skills
and
resources
(Ewert
&
Hollenhorst,
1997).
In
particular,
high-altitude
rock
climbing
entails
physical
danger
(ranging
from
light
injuries
to
death)
mainly
due
to
environ-
mental
conditions,
low
temperatures,
and
altitude-related
illnesses
such
as
acute
mountain
sickness
and
cerebral
and
pulmonary
edema
(Wilkinson,
1992).
Because
of
the
voluntary
pur-
suit
of
risk,
the
lack
of
evident
external
rewards,
and
hence
the
essentially
non-utilitarian
nature
of
rock
climbing,
sport
psychologists
have
focused
on
the
investigation
of
the
motiva-
tional
patterns
underlying
such
activity.
According
to
Ewert's
(1994)
analysis
of
existing
literature,
most
researchers
have
advo-
cated
personality
and
sensation-seeking
theories
to
explain
risk
taking
in
climbing.
Personality
Received
10
December
2000;
accepted
15
March
2002.
This
work
is
based
on
a
paper
presented
at
the
First
National
Congress
on
"Flow
e
peak
performance:
discipline
a
confronto."
Milano,
Italy,
October
23,
1999.
Address
correspondence
to
Antonella
Delle
Fave,
Dipartimento
di
Scienze
Precliniche
"LITA
Vialba,"
University
degli
Studi
di
Milano,
Via
G.B.Grassi
74,
20157
Milano,
Italy.
E-mail:
antonella.dellefave@unimi.it
82
RISK
PERCEPTION
IN
HIGH-ALTITUDE
ROCK
CLIMBING
83
tests,
such
as
the
Eysenck
Personality
Questionnaire,
Zuckerman's
Sensation
Seeking
Scale
V,
and
Cattell
16
PF,
showed
that
the
personality
profile
of
climbers
is
characterized
by
extra-
version,
emotional
stability,
conformity
to
social
norms,
search
for
thrill
and
experience
by
socialized
means,
and
boredom
susceptibility
(Breivik,
1996;
Goma
i
Freixanet,
1991).
Other
researchers
have
investigated
risk
seeking
as
a
goal-directed
set
of
behaviors.
From
this
per-
spective,
risk
taking
is
not
a
goal
per
se
but
a
means
for
climbers
to
fulfill
other
goals,
such
as
the
need
for
arousal
(Ellis,
1973;
Gould
&
Tuffey,
1996)
and
autonomy
and
self-determina-
tion
(Frederick
&
Ryan,
1995).
Ewert
(1994),
adopting
the
goal-directed
approach
to
risk
taking,
analyzed
360
American
climbers
tested
by
means
of
a
50-item
questionnaire
designed
to
assess
recreation-based
moti-
vations
to
climb.
Two
major
results
emerged.
First
and
foremost,
climbers'
perceptions
of
the
level
of
risk
were
different
from
the
perceptions
of
the
non-climbing
public.
The
pursuit
of
risk
had
low
motivational
power
in
Ewert's
sample,
probably
due
to
the
control
of
and
the
influ-
ence
over
outcome
perceived
by
the
climbers.
Second,
different
patterns
of
motivation
could
be
related
to
participants'
levels
of
experience.
The
more
climbers
gained
experience,
the
more
motivating
factors
moved
along
a
continuum
from
relatively
mechanical
motives,
such
as
learning
how
to
climb,
to
more
intrinsic
and
autotelic
ones,
such
as
self-expression.
Among
the
more
complex,
autotelic
motives
underlying
rock
climbing
is
the
quality
of
the
experience.
In
particular,
Csikszentmihalyi
(1969,
1975)
detected
the
recurring
association
of
rock
climbing
with
flow,
or
optimal
experience.
Optimal
experience
is
characterized
by
the
perception
of
high
environmental
opportunities
for
action
(challenges)
and
adequate
indi-
vidual
capabilities
(skills;
Massimini,
Csikszentmihalyi,
&
Carli,
1987).
Additional
features
of
this
experience
are
focus
of
attention
on
the
task
at
hand,
control
of
the
situation,
clear
goals,
feedback
from
the
situation,
well-being,
personal
satisfaction,
and
intrinsic
reward
(Csikszentmihalyi,
1975, 1990;
Csikszentmihalyi
&
Csikszentmihalyi,
1988;
Kowal
&
Fortier,
1999).
Beside
rock
climbing,
many
studies
have
shown
the
association
of
flow
with
other
sports
such
as
basketball,
figure
skating,
swimming,
and
cycling
(Jackson
&
Csikszentmihalyi,
1999;
Muzio,
Nitro,
&
Crosta,
1999).
Because
of
the
highly
positive
and
rewarding
characteristics
of
flow,
the
associated
activi-
ties
tend
to
be
preferentially
replicated
(Csikszentmihalyi
&
Massimini,
1985).
This
process
shapes
individual
life
themes,
which
are
the
sets
of
activities,
interests,
and
goals
a
person
preferentially
selects
and
cultivates
in
his/her
life
(Csikszentmihalyi
&
Beattie,
1979).
Culti-
vation
implies
improving
one's
skills
in
meeting
the
challenges
of
the
activity.
In
time,
in
order
to
maintain
the
challenges/skills
balance
typical
of
flow,
an
individual
will
consequently
search
for
higher
challenges
to
be
faced
with
more
refined
skills.
From
this
perspective,
flow
promotes
personal
growth
and
increases
complexity
in
behavior
(Massimini
&
Delle
Fave,
2000).
In
line
with
the
goal-directed
approach
adopted
in
the
sport
literature
to
investigate
risk
taking,
the
first
aim
of
the
present
study
was
to
investigate
the
quality
of
experience
associated
with
the
different
activities
carried
out
during
a
high-altitude
expedition.
Climbing
Himalayan
peaks
involves
remarkable
difficulties,
both
at
the
technical
and
at
the
environmental
level.
It
is
a
very
challenging
task
in
which
climbers
undoubtedly
put
their
skills
to
the
test.
We
hy-
pothesized
that
the
main
reason
why
climbers
took
part
in
a
risky
expedition
rested
upon
the
preferential
association
of
climbing
and
related
activities
with
the
perception
of
flow.
In
other
words,
climbers'
motivation
to
climb
and
to
take
what
many
would
consider
life-threatening
risks
could
be
the
search
for
an
extremely
engaging,
and
intrinsically
rewarding
experience.
The
second
aim
of
this
study
was
to
investigate
the
impact
of
the
subjective
assessment
of
risk
on
the
overall
quality
of
experience
associated
with
expedition
activities.
Ewert
(1994)
sug-
gested
that
risk
taking
was
not
very
important
as
a
motivating
variable
for
rock
climbers.
84
A.
DELLE
FAVE
ET
AL.
However,
Ewert's
data
were
gathered
after
the
climbing
performance.
Therefore,
risk
and
risk
taking
may
not
have
assumed
as
high
a
level
of
importance,
in
that
the
experience
and
poten-
tial
for
loss
were
over
at
the
time
when
the
assessment
took
place.
Because
we
assumed
that
the
main
reason
for
climbing
was
flow
and
not
risk
per
se,
we
hypothesized
that
even
data
gathered
on-line
during
the
expedition
itself
would
show
that
risk
perception
had
a
small
im-
pact
on
the
overall
quality
of
experience.
Researchers
investigating
flow
in
rock
climbing,
or
analyzing
motivation
associated
with
this
sport
activity,
have
mainly
used
interview
techniques
or
one-time
administration
of
self-
evaluative
questionnaires
(Csikszentmihalyi,
1975;
Jackson
&
Marsh,
1996;
Muzio
et
al.,
1999).
In
this
study,
we
adopted
the
experience
sampling
method
(ESM),
a
tool
based
on
on-line
repeated
administration
of
self-report
questionnaires
(Csikszentmihalyi
&
Larson,
1987).
The
questionnaires
investigated
climbers'
time-budget
by
means
of
open-ended questions,
and
associated
quality
of
experience
through
scaled
variables.
In
order
to
tackle
our
first
research
hypothesis,
among
the
open-ended
questions
we
ana-
lyzed
the
activities
carried
out
throughout
the
expedition.
Because
there
is
no
literature
on
climbers'
time-budget,
we
wanted
to
detect
the
kinds
of
activities
performed
while
at
camps
and
while
climbing,
and
the
portion
of
time
devoted
to
each
activity.
In
order
to
assess
the
associated
quality
of
experience,
the
experience
fluctuation
model
(EFM)
was
applied
to
the
ESM
data
(Carli,
1986;
Massimini
et
al.,
1987).
To
build
the
model,
we
used
the
levels
of
challenges
and
skills
perceived
in
the
situation,
each
measured
on
a
0-12
scale
in
ESM
forms.
The
model
is
circular
and
each
sector
(called
a
channel)
is
based
on
challenges/skills
ratios
(Carli,
1986).
Each
channel
corresponds
to
a
specific
experiential
profile.
In
particular,
re-
searchers
have
identified
four
major
channels,
corresponding
to
the
experiences
of
flow,
apa-
thy,
relaxation,
and
anxiety.
We
analyzed
the
frequency
distributions
of
the
climbers'
reports
and
activities
into
the
channels
in
order
to
shed
light
on
the
associated
quality
of
experience.
As
regards
climbing
and
camp
activities
(the
core
of
the
expedition)
we
also
investigated
climbers'
motivation
as
reported
by
means
of
an
ESM
multiple-choice
question.
This
pro-
vided
additional
information
about
free
choice
in
performing
a
given
activity.
As
concerns
our
second
hypothesis
related
to
risk
perception,
the
administration
of
ESM
made
it
possible
to
monitor
perceived
risk
moment
by
moment.
Risk
assessment
was
mea-
sured
by
means
of
ESM
scaled
variables,
and
appraised
in
relation
to
skills
and
challenges
perception
within
the
EFM.
METHOD
Participants
and
Expedition
The
sample
consisted
of
six
Italian
male
rock
climbers,
their
age
ranging
from
25
to
37
years
(M
=
29.3,
SD
=
3.9),
who
volunteered
to
take
part
in
this
study.
The
small
number
of
participants
reflects
the
typical
size
of
high-altitude
climbing
expeditions.
The
project
in
full
included
various
testing
sessions:
(a)
four
ESM
testing
sessions
during
climbers'
daily
life
in
Italy,
two
before
and
two
after
the
expedition;
(b)
one
testing
session
during
the
expedition
in
the
Himalaya;
and
(c)
one
testing
session
while
climbing
in
Italy.
In
this
study,
the
expedition
was
analyzed.
Participants
aimed
at
climbing
Thalay
Sagar
(6,904
m),
one
of
the
most
difficult
peaks
in
the
Indian
Himalaya.
They
chose
a
climbing
route
that
had
never
been
ascended
before.
The
sample
was
identified
as
being
highly
experienced
(Ewert,
1994).
Participants
were
not
professional
climbers,
but
all
had
more
than
3
years
of
practice,
climbed
regularly
and
frequently
the
year
round,
and
ascended
peaks
in
Europe
and
North
and
South
Americas
(in-
RISK
PERCEPTION
IN
HIGH-ALTITUDE
ROCK
CLIMBING
85
cluding
low-
and
high-altitude
ascents,
and
winter
climbing).
Climbers
were
members
of
C.A.I.
(Italian
Alpine
Club),'
but
only
one
of
them
actively
took
part
in
the
association's
programs.
Rock
climbing
rankings
of
the
participants
were
not
specified.
Participants
did
not
receive
any
extrinsic
reward
(neither
money
nor
equipment)
before,
during,
or
after
the
expedition.
Even
though
they
were
free
to
quit
at
any
time
during
their
stay
in
the
Himalaya,
none
did.
The
expedition
team
comprised
the
six
climbers,
two
doctors,
and
three
researchers
from
the
Institute
of
Psychology
at
the
Medical
School
of
the
University
of
Milan.
The
University
of
Milan
only
provided
sponsorship
for
the
three
researchers.
The
expedition
lasted
44
days,
from
the
end
of
August
until
the
beginning
of
October.
Five
days
were
spent
to
fly
to
and
from
India,
and
to
carry
out
bureaucratic
matters
in
New
Delhi.
These
days
were
not
tested.
During
the
remaining
39
days,
climbers
reached
the
Himalayan
region,
tried
to
ascend
Thalay
Sagar,
and
traveled
back
to
New
Delhi.
This
period
was
tested:
It
comprised
13
days
of
traveling
and
26
days
of
mountaineering.
Although
the
weather
in
the
Himalaya
is
supposed
to
be
nice
in
late
summer,
the
expedition
was
disrupted
by
an
eight-day
period
of
bad
weather
(30.8%
of
the
mountaineering
period),
with
storms
and
abundant
snow-
ing.
For
this
reason,
participants
did
not
manage
to
reach
the
summit,
and
were
faced
with
life-
threatening
climbing
and
living
conditions.
The
failure
to
reach
the
top
was
not
investigated
in
this
study
because the
main
focus
of
analysis
was
the
quality
of
experience
and
risk
perception
of
high-altitude
rock
climbers
in
a
general
perspective.
Procedure
Data
were
gathered
through
ESM
(Csikszentmihalyi,
Larson,
&
Prescott,
1977).
This
pro-
cedure
provides
repeated on-line
sampling
of
subjective
experience
during
real
life.
Each
climber
received
an
electronic
pager
(a
wrist
watch
alarm)
that
sent
random
acoustic
signals
(beeps)
during
waking
hours.
Each
device
had
a
different
beep
schedule.
According
to
the
literature
on
ESM
validity
and
reliability
(Csikszentmihalyi
&
Larson,
1987;
Delespaul,
1995;
Larson
&
Delespaul,
1992;
Massimini
et
al.,
1987),
five
signals
a
day
for
a
standard
one-
week
session
are
effective
in
portraying
participants'
daily
life
and
experience.
In
this
study,
we
decided
to
program
pagers
to
send
(a)
four
signals,
both
at
the
beginning
of
the
expedition
when
climbers
traveled
from
New
Delhi
to
the
Himalayan
base
camp,
and
at
the
end
of
the
expedition,
when
they
traveled
back
to
New
Delhi
(13
days
altogether,
and
a
total
of
52
beeps
for
each
climber);
and
(b)
six
signals
during
the
mountaineering
period
(26
days,
156
beeps).
This
decision
was
due
to
the
importance
of
maintaining
climbers'
compliance
throughout
the
whole
research
project
(including
the
testing
in
Italy),
to
the
protracted
ESM
administration
during
the
expedition
(39
days),
and
to
our
major
focus
on
mountain
activities
rather
than
traveling.
In
addition
to
the
pager,
climbers
were
given
booklets
containing
ESM
forms.
In
compari-
son
with
the
standard
ESM
sheet
(Csikszentmihalyi
&
Larson,
1984),
the
format
was
changed
according
to
the
climbers'
needs.
In
order
not
to
add
extra
weight,
every
day
participants
carried
a
new
booklet
of
ESM
forms,
5.3
x
4
inches
in
size.
They
were
asked
to
fill
out
a
form
every
time
they
received
a
signal.
While
climbing
they
were
expected
to
reach
a
safe
place
before
filling
out
the
questionnaire.
'C.A.I.
(Club
Alpino
Italiano)
is
a
national
association
founded
in
1863
with
the
aim
of
protecting
the
Italian
alpine
environment
and
fostering
sport
activities
on
the
mountains.
Among
its
main
activities
are
alpine
rescue,
maintenance
of
its
shelters
and
bivouacs,
training
courses
for
personnel
on
alpine
activities
such
as
skiing,
hiking,
climbing
and
speleology,
and
organization
of
free
time
activities
on
the
mountain
for
the
C.A.I.
members
and
Italian
population.
86
A.
DELLE
FAVE
ET
AL.
The
ESM
form
contained
open-ended
questions
investigating
situational
variables,
such
as
place,
social
context,
activities
carried
out
when
beeped,
and
subjective
variables
such
as
the
content
of
thought,
what
was
at
stake
in
the
activity,
and
perceived
goals.
In
order
to
analyze
climbers'
time-budget,
we
focused
on
the
activities
that
were
carried
out
during
the
expedi-
tion.
When
beeped,
climbers
answered
the
open-ended
question:
"What
were
you
doing?",
and
were
asked
to
provide
as
many
details
as
possible.
Likert-type
0-12
scales,
ranging
from
0
(not
at
all)
to
12
(to
the
maximum),
investigated
the
quality
of
experience
in
its
affective,
cognitive,
and
motivational
components,
as
well
as
perceived
challenges
and
skills.
Climbers
were
asked:
"Please,
describe
how
you
felt
when
you
were
beeped."
A
list
of
adjectives
(e.g.,
happy,
alert,
free,
involved)
followed.
Climbers
had
to
place
a
cross
on
the
point
of
the
scale
that
corresponded
to
their
self-evaluations.
Other
Likert-type
scales
were
structured
as
ques-
tions
(e.g.,
"Did
you
feel
in
control
of
the
situation?")
followed
by
0-12
scales.
In
order
to
assess
risk
perception,
three
additional
scaled
variables
were
added
in
the
questionnaire:
feel-
ing
in
danger,
feeling
in
difficulty,
and
feeling
afraid.
Moreover,
a
multiple-choice
question
investigated
the
perceived
level
of
freedom
in
performing
the
on-going
activity
("Why
were
you
doing
it?").
Answers
comprised:
I
wanted
to
do
it,
I
had
to
do
it,
I
had
nothing
else
to
do.
Climbers
could
select
more
than
one
answer.
As
methodologically
advised,
answers
given
more
than
15
minutes
after
the
signal's
receipt
are
normally
discarded
from
data
analysis,
thus
avoiding
distortions
associated
with
retrospec-
tive
recall
(deVries,
1992).
In
ESM
forms,
it
is
possible
to
ascertain
the
time
elapsed
between
a
signal's
receipt
and
the
form
filling
out
because
participants
are
asked
to
indicate
the
time
when
they
were
beeped,
and
the
time
when
they
started
to
fill
out
the
sheet.
Participants
were
not
informed
about
the
15-minute
time
limit;
in
any
case,
they
never
surpassed
it.
They
filled
out
1033
valid
questionnaires,
that
is
82.8%
of
the
scheduled
1248
(312
traveling
to
and
from
the
Himalayan
base
camp,
and
936
during
mountaineering).
Missing
reports
were
due
to
fail-
ure
to
answer
the
signal.
On
average,
each
climber
provided
172
self-reports,
ranging
from
a
minimum
of
159
to
a
maximum
of
194.
Because
collected
reports
were
not
evenly
distributed
across
the
climbers,
the
scores
of
the
scaled
variables
were
weighed
on
the
basis
of
the
number
of
questionnaires
gathered
for
each
climber:
Weights
were
calculated
by
dividing
the
average
number
of
self-reports
(172)
by
the
actual
number
of
forms
each
participant
filled
out.
The
Experience
Fluctuation
Model
In
order
to
detect
the
influence
of
perceived
challenges
and
skills
on
the
quality
of
experi-
ence,
data
were
analyzed
by
means
of
the
EFM.
The
model
is
built
on
the
Cartesian
plane,
with
challenges
on
the
y-axis
and
skills
on
the
x-axis
(see
Figure
1).
The
plane
is
divided
into
eight
sectors
of
45°,
called
channels,
each
representing
a
specific
range
of
ratios
between
challenges
and
skills.
Because
ESM
is
based
on
repeated
self-reports,
the
values
of
challenges
and
skills
were
standardized
for
each
participant
(M=
0,
SD
=
1).
Therefore,
the
mean
of
challenges
and
skills
for
each
participant,
as
well
as
the
mean
of
all
participants'
means
(labeled
subjective
mean
in
the
model
and
throughout
the
text)
were
zero,
and
corresponded
to
the
center
of
the
model
(i.e.,
the
origin
of
the
axes).
Also
the
values
of
all
the
other
ESM
experiential
variables
were
standardized
on
the
basis
of
each
participant's
mean
for
each
variable;
subsequently,
a
mean
value
for
each
variable
was
calculated
within
each
channel.
This
procedure
was
developed
by
Massimini
et
al.
(1987),
and
Massimini
and
Carli
(1988),
and
used
in
subsequent
studies
(Haworth
&
Evans,
1995;
Persson,
Eklund,
&
Isacsson,
1999).
The
eight
channels
identify
specific
experiential
profiles,
as
shown
in
previous
studies
on
Italian
adolescents'
daily
experiences
(Delle
Fave
&
Bassi,
2000).
Channel
2
(characterized
Channel
8
challenges
>
SM
Channel
2
ANXIETY
challenges
>
SM
skills
.
SM
challenges
>
SM
OPTIMAL
EXPERIENCE
skills
<
SM
skills
>
SM
Channel
7
challenges
.
SM
skills
<
SM
challenges
.
SM
skills
>
SM
Channel
3
challenges
<
SM
skills
<
SM
challenges
<
SM
skills
>
SM
Channel
6
challenges
<
SM
Channel
4
APATHY
skills
.
SM
RELAXATION
Channel
5
RISK
PERCEPTION
IN
HIGH-ALTITUDE
ROCK
CLIMBING
87
Channel
1
C
H
A
L
L
E
N
G
E
S
SKILLS
Figure
1.
The
Experience
Fluctuation
Model
(SM
=
Subjective
mean).
by
a
balance
between
challenges
and
skills
above
subjective
mean)
is
associated
with
flow.
In
channel
6,
challenges
and
skills
are
perceived
as
balanced
below
subjective
mean:
The
associ-
ated
experience
is
globally
negative,
and
it
has
been
defmed
apathy
(Massimini
et
al.,
1987).
Channel
4
(skills
higher
and
challenges
lower
than
subjective
mean)
is
associated
with
the
experience
of
relaxation.
Channel
8
is
characterized
by
the
perception
of
challenges
higher
and
skills
lower
than
subjective
mean:
The
associated
experience
has
been
labeled
anxiety.
The
remaining
four
channels
identify
intermediate
experiential
states,
and
are
referred
to
as
transition
channels
(Delle
Fave,
1996).
In
particular,
the
experience
associated
with
channel
1,
characterized
by
high
challenges
and
average
skills,
has
been
defmed
arousal
(Csikszentmihalyi,
1997b).
In
this
paper,
we
will
focus
on
the
four
major
channels,
because
no
systematic
study
has
so
far
been
carried
out
on
the
transition
channels.
Analysis
of
Data
In
ESM
data
organization,
two
different
approaches
can
be
adopted
(see
Larson
&
Delespaul,
1992):
(a)
In
the
beep-level
analysis,
the
unit
of
data
organization
is
the
self-report
filled
out
when
the
participant
receives
a
beep.
Thus,
as
concerns
scaled
variables,
scores
are
standard-
ized
in
order
to
remove
differences
between
individuals
in
how they
respond
to
each
item.
Z
scores
are
created
by
subtracting
the
participant's
mean
for
the
item
from
the
raw
score,
and
then
dividing
the
result
by
the
participant's
standard
deviation.
For
each
respondent,
at
the
end
of
the
transformation,
each
variable
will
have
as
many
z
scores
as
are
the
self-reports
(except
possible
missing
values).
At
this
point,
a
researcher
may
want
to
obtain
the
score
of
a
variable
for
each
channel
of
the
EFM.
Within
each
channel,
a
mean
score
is
calculated
by
averaging
the
z
scores
obtained
for
that
variable.
This
calculation
will
produce
a
single
mean
z
score
of
that
variable
for
each
channel.
Given
the
big
number
of
serial
self-reports
each
participant
fills
out,
88
A.
DELLE
FAVE
ET
AL.
the
most
important
criticism
of
beep-level
analysis
regards
the
possible
interrelationship
be-
tween adjacent
reports.
So
far
as
we
know,
no
specific
procedure
has
been
used
in
ESM
litera-
ture
to
tackle
the
problem
of
autocorrelations.
In
this
respect,
Larson
and
Delespaul
(1992)
affirmed
that
in
certain
circumstances,
violating
the
assumption
of
independence
is
almost
unavoidable
and
may
represent
the
best
possible
presentation
of
the
data.
In
addition,
the
random
way
in
which
self-reports
are
gathered
weakens
the
dependence
among
serial
data.
(b)
In
the
subject-level
analysis,
the
participant
is
the
unit
of
data
organization.
The
scores
of
each
variable
are
standardized
for
each
individual,
and
then
aggregated
scores
(mean
z
scores)
are
obtained.
In
this
case,
in
the
calculation
of
the
mean
score,
N
is
no
longer
the
number
of
self-reports
but
the
number
of
participants.
This
kind
of
analysis
is
more
conservative
in
that
the
assumption
of
independence
is
not
violated,
as
it
is
in
the
beep-level
analysis.
However,
aggregating
data
in
this
way
squanders
repeated
measurements,
increasing
the
probability
of
Type
II
errors
(Larson
&
Delespaul,
1992).
The
choice
of
the
approach
and
statistical
analyses
to
be
used
depends
on
the
aims
of
the
research
involved.
Given
the
uniqueness
of
this
research,
we
were
interested
in
providing
exploratory
basic
information
about
climbers'
experience
during
the
expedition,
and
not
in
individual
differences
(between-subject
variability).
For
these
reasons,
we
have
selected
the
beep-level
analysis.
In
order
to
test
our
hypotheses,
we
first
analyzed
the
activity
distribution
during
the
expedi-
tion.
Nowadays,
many
methods
are
available
to
analyze
qualitative
data.
We
decided
to
use
the
same
procedure adopted
in
other
ESM
studies
in
order
to
allow
for
possible
comparisons
(Csikszentmihalyi
&
Larson,
1984).
Each
reported
activity
was
coded
and
then
grouped
into
broader
content
categories
according
to
their
function.
As
suggested
by
Csikszentmihalyi
(1997a),
the
first
step
in
grouping
activities
is
to
choose
the
level
of
magnification
at
which
to
look
at
people's
typical
daily
activities.
Three
main
broad
classes
were
detected:
productive
activities,
maintenance,
and
free
time.
Each
of
them
can
be
broken
down
into
smaller
catego-
ries,
because
every
activity
quoted
by
the
participants
is
labeled
with
a
numeric
code.
In
this
study,
the
three
researchers
who
took
part
in
the
expedition
carried
out
the
categorization.
In
order
to
increase
reliability
by
increasing
homogeneity
of
coding,
they
joined
in
calibration
meetings
to
discuss
items
on
which
they
disagreed
and
sought
to
reach
consensus
on
common
rules
and
codes.
The
resulting
categories
comprised
maintenance,
climbing,
camp
activities,
traveling,
leisure,
thinking,
and
social
interactions.
The
quality
of
experience
was
then
analyzed
through
the
EFM
in
order
to
identify
experien-
tial
profiles
associated
with
the
channels.
Drawing
from
studies
that
investigated
multidimen-
sional
constructs
(Garant,
Charest,
Alain,
&
Thomassin,
1995;
0177o,
Yost,
Campbell,
&
Shea,
1993;
McIntyre,
1992;
Thayer,
1967),
and
previous
ESM
studies
(Csikszentmihalyi
&
Larson,
1984),
we
aggregated
some
of
the
ESM
scaled
variables
into
synthetic
experiential
dimensions.
Pearson's
correlations
and
Cronbach's
alphas
were
calculated
on
the
z
scores
of
the
variables
comprised
in
each
dimension:
mood
(happy,
cheerful,
sociable,
friendly;
r
rang-
ing
from
.39
to
.75,
p
<
.0001;
alpha
=
.79),
intrinsic
motivation
(free,
relaxed,
wish
doing
the
activity,
satisfied;
r
ranging
from
.39
to
.50,
p
<
.0001;
alpha
=
.73),
potency
(alert,
active,
strong,
concentrated;
r
ranging
from
.32
to
.40,p
<
.0001;
alpha
=
.68),
engagement
(involved,
stake
in
the
activity,
goal;
r
ranging
from
.21
to
.36,
p
<
.0001;
alpha
=
.52),
confidence
(control
of
the
situation,
sure,
determined,
clear ideas;
r
ranging
from
.31
to
.48,
p
<
.0001;
Cronbach
alpha
=
.70),
and
risk
assessment
(in
danger,
in
difficulty,
afraid;
r
ranging
from
.22
to
.44,
p
<
.0001;
alpha
=
.58).
As
regards
risk
assessment,
data
were
reverse-scored:
Positive
values
referred
to
the
perception
of
risk
below
average,
whereas
negative
scores
related
to
the
perception
of
risk
above
average.
Even
if
some
alpha
coefficients
were
fairly
low,
we
deemed
them
acceptable
for
the
exploratory
purposes
of
the
study.
In
each
self-report,
the
value
of
each
dimension
was
calculated
as
the
mean
of
the
values
of
the
variables
comprised
in
the
RISK
PERCEPTION
IN
HIGH-ALTITUDE
ROCK
CLIMBING
89
dimension.
Only
the
experiential
dimensions
will
be
discussed
in
the
text.
However,
Table
1
also
includes
the
scores
of
the
single
items,
in
order
to
provide
all
the
information
to
the
reader.
T
tests
were
performed
to
assess
whether
scores
were
significantly
different
from
the
subjec-
tive
mean
(zero). Given
the
large
number
of
t
tests
carried
out
(N=
112),
we
took
a
Bonferroni
approach
to
adjust
for
the
multiple
tests
performed
on
the
same
data
set.
According
to
the
simplest
application
of
this
procedure,
adjusted
alpha
is
obtained
dividing
the
desired
level
of
significance
by
the
number
of
t
tests
performed.
Therefore,
to
achieve
a
<
.05
with
112
t
tests,
the
alphas
obtained
from
the
data
set
have
to
score
below
.0004464
(that
is,
a
<
.05
/
112).
In
order
to
reject
a
null
hypothesis,
the
test
statistic
must
exceed
critical
t
=
3.39.
In
our
data
set,
Table
1
The
Quality
of
Experience
in
the
Major
Channels
(Weighed
Standardized
Values)
Variables
Flow
Channel
2
M
SD
Relaxation
Channel
4
M
SD
Apathy
Channel
6
M
SD
Anxiety
Channel
8
M
SD
Mood
Happy
Sociable
Friendly
Cheerful
Intrinsic
mot.
Free
Relaxed
Wish
doing
act
Satisfied
Potency
Alert
Active
Strong
Concentrated
Engagement
At
stake
Involved
Future
goals
Risk
assessment
In
danger
In
difficulty
Afraid
Confidence
Control
of
sit.
Sure
Determined
Clear
ideas
N
self-reports
.35*
.32*
.18
.38*
.22
.40*
.28*
.16
.24*
.45*
.46*
.22
.45*
.33*
.24*
.64*
.52*
.19
.44*
.13
.02
.19
.10
.52*
.33*
.39*
.41*
.33*
219
.89
.93
.92
.96
.93
.88
.85
.95
.92
.85
.85
.97
.82
.93
.90
.83
.83
.84
1.04
1.04
1.16
.90
.87
.86
.97
.90
.82
.85
-.11
-.08
.01
-.17
-.09
-.17
-.05
-.01
-.22
-.13
-.27*
-.03
-.21
-.03
-.38*
-.49*
-.43*
-.33*
-.36*
.19
.03
.17
.15*
-.11
.10
-.04
-.21
-.12
.95
.99
.97
.92
.98
.93
.97
.92
1.00
.92
.93
1.01
1.00
1.01
.92
.84
.93
1.09
.69
.87
1.12
.96
.43
.95
.88
.95
.97
.99
200
-.58*
-.56*
-.34*
-.53*
-.37*
-.55*
-.44*
-.23
-.33*
-.65*
-.76*
-.52*
-.61*
-.52*
-.55*
-.70*
-.61*
-.39*
-A3*
-.14
.05
-.23
-.10
-.70*
-.51*
-.40*
-.57*
-.55*
198
1.00
1.00
.99
1.05
1.07
.98
1.07
1.07
1.01
1.03
.88
.95
.90
.99
.95
.79
1.04
1.10
.75
.95
.75
1.09
1.03
.98
1.07
1.08
.99
1.11
.09
.03
.00
.21
.03
-.00
-.02
-.21
.12
-.05
.35
.23
.29
-.07
.51*
.28
.37*
.33
.11
-.44
-.23
-.44*
-.21
-.00
-.26
-.18
.32
.07
77
.97
.93
1.07
.98
1.09
1.00
1.14
1.11
1.06
.77
1.04
.90
1.01
1.15
1.05
.90
.78
.97
.95
1.19
1.09
.97
1.16
.89
.90
.91
1.13
.96
Note.
The
p
values
were
adjusted
using
the
Bonferroni
approach.
The
adjusted
alpha
value
for
.0001
level
of
significance
with
112
t
tests
corresponds
to
.0112
(.0001
=
.0112
/
112).
*p
<
.0112
90
A.
DELLE
FAVE
ET
AL.
this
criterion
was
met
only
for
alphas
below
.0001,
because the
remaining
alpha
values
were
higher
than
.0004464.
The
adjusted
alpha
value
for
.0001
level
of
significance
with
112
t
tests
corresponds
to
.0112,
because
.0001
=
.0112
/
112.
Therefore,
in
our
study
significance
was
achieved
when
a
<
.0112.
The
relationship
between
activities
and
the
quality
of
experience
was
assessed
in
subse-
quent
steps.
First,
we
investigated
the
frequency
distribution
of
the
climbers'
self-reports
into
the
channels.
Second,
we
analyzed
the
distribution
of
the
main
expedition
activities
in
the
channels,
in
order
to
have
a
closer
view
on
what
kinds
of
activities
were
preferentially
associ-
ated
with
flow.
Third,
as
regards
camp
and
climbing
activities,
we
evaluated
the
perception
of
free
choice
in
doing
the
activity.
RESULTS
Activity
Distribution
Figure
2
shows
climbers'
activity
distribution
during
the
expedition.
Maintenance
ranked
first
with
36.8%
of
the
self-reports.
It
comprised
basic
survival
activities
such
as
resting
(31.3%),
eating
(19.5%),
sleeping
(8.7%),
and
drinking
(7.1%).
Camp
activities
followed,
with
26.4%
of
the
answers:
Climbers
were
mainly
busy
moving
from
one
camp
to
the
other
(17.6%),
cooking
and
fixing
beverages
(16.5%),
preparing
the
rucksack
and
equipment
for
ascent
(11%),
Other
15.2%
Interaction-
Conversation
10.7%
Maintenance
362%
Thirking
2.4%
Leisure
13.3%
Traveling
1.9%
Climbing
2.2%
Camp
activities
215.4%
Figure
2.
Activity
distribution
(N
self-reports
=
1033).
RISK
PERCEPTION
IN
HIGH-ALTITUDE
ROCK
CLIMBING
91
discussing
routes
and
climbing
techniques
(8.4%),
and
setting
the
tents
(7.3%).
Leisure
was
reported
in
13.3%
of
the
answers:
This
category
comprised
reading
(24.8%),
playing
cards
(15.3%),
sun
bathing
(9.5%),
and
taking
photos
(8.8%).
Interaction
and
conversation
accounted
for
10.7%
of
the
activities.
Climbing
activities
were
carried
out
in
2.2%
of
the
answers
and
comprised
digging
material
out
of
the
snow
(17.4%),
exploring
climbing
ways
ahead
(8.7%),
climbing
(8.7%),
carrying
the
material
(8.7%),
and
ascending
fixed
ropes
(4.3%).
In
the
cat-
egory
Other
(6.2%
of
the
total
answers),
climbers
mostly
reported
to
be
doing
"nothing"
(67.2%).
Frequency
Distribution
of
the
Channels
The
distribution
of
the
1033
valid
self-reports
in
the
channels
of
the
EFM
was
analyzed.
Channel
2
(associated
with
flow)
was
the
most
frequent
(21.2%).
Channel
4
(relaxation)
with
19.4%,
and
channel
6
(apathy)
with
19.2%
followed.
Channel
8
(anxiety)
was
reported
only
in
7.5%
of
the
questionnaires.
Although
we
will
not
analyze
the
transition
channels,
we
point
out
that
15.5%
of
the
questionnaires
fell
into
channel
1,
corresponding
to
an
experience
of
arousal.
The
remaining
transition
channels
were
less
frequent:
channel
3
(6.6%),
channel
5
(5.6%),
and
channel
7
(5.1%).
Quality
of
Experience
in
the
Channels
Table
1
shows
the
values
of
single
variables
and
aggregated
dimensions
in
the
channels.
For
both
variables
and
dimensions,
mean
z
scores
were
calculated
on
the
number
of
self-
reports
(beep-level
analysis).
T
tests
were
performed
in
order
to
assess
whether
variables'
and
dimensions'
scores
were
significantly
different
from
the
mean.
Alpha
was
adjusted
as
dis-
cussed
above.
Analysis
focused
on
the
four
major
channels
(2,
4,
6,
8).
Flow
or
optimal
experience
(channel
2)
was
characterized
by
significant
positive
values
of
mood,
t(216)
=
5.78,
p
<
.0112,
intrinsic
motivation,
t(216)
=
6.74,
p
<
.0112,
potency,
t(217)
=
'7.85,
p
<
.0112,
engagement,
t(190)
=
10.42,
p
<
.0112,
and
confidence,
t(217)
=
8.96,
p
<
.0112.
Risk
was
perceived
being
around
average.
In
the
experience
of
apathy
(channel
6),
significantly
negative
values
were
detected
for
mood,
t(198)
=
—8.07,
p
<
.0112,
intrinsic
motivation,
t(197)
=
—7.77,
p
<
.0112,
potency,
t(198)
=
—12.1,p
<
.0112,
engagement,
1(188)
=
—11.8,p
<
.0112,
and
confidence,
1(197)
=
—9.83,
p
<
.0112.
Risk
was
perceived
above
average,
even
if
not
significant.
In
channel
4,
associated
with
relaxation,
the
experience
was
negative
in
terms
of
potency,
t(200)
=
—4.11,p
<
.0112,
and
engagement,
t(195)
=
—8.16,
p
<
.0112.
Also
mood,
intrinsic
motivation,
confidence,
and
risk
assessment
had
negative
scores,
even
if
not
significant.
In
the
experience
of
anxiety
(channel
8),
none
of
the
values
was
significantly
different
from
zero.
Climbers
reported
average
mood,
intrinsic
motivation,
and
confidence,
and
positive
val-
ues
of
potency,
and
engagement.
Risk
was
perceived
above
average.
Only
a
very
low
percent-
age
of
answers
was
associated
with
channel
8.
However,
risk
was
perceived
above
average
in
54.5%
of
them.
In
this
channel,
participants
reported
the
highest
values
of
risk
assessment,
in
particular
in
association
with
camp
activities
(31.7%),
such
as
walking
in
the
snow,
and
fixing
the
tent.
This
share
of
activities
was
predominant
during
the
period
of
bad
weather
that
struck
the
expedition.
Activity
Distribution
in
the
Channels
Table
2
shows
the
percentage
distribution
in
the
channels
of
the
four
main
activity
catego-
ries:
camp
activities,
climbing,
maintenance,
and
leisure.
Data
showed
an
overall
predominant
association
of
camp
and
climbing
activities
with
high-
92
A.
DELLE
FAVE
ET
AL.
Table
2
Percentage
Distribution
of
Expedition
Activities
in
the
Channels
Channels
Camp
activities
Climbing
Maintenance
Leisure
(273)'
(23)'
(380)' (137)'
1
21.6
34.8
9.2
27
2
34.8
52.2
13.9
11.7
3
3.7
4.3
9.2
8
4
13.9
23.9
21.9
5
3.7
5.3
4.4
6
6.2
28.2
13.9
7
6.6
4.7
4.4
8
9.5
8.7
5.5
8.8
100
100 100
100
Note.
Dashes
indicate
that
no
climbing
activity
was
associated
with
channels
4,
5,
6,
and
7.
a
N
self-reports
challenge
experiences
(channels
1,
2,
8).
In
particular,
camp
and
climbing
activities
mostly
fell
into
channel
2,
associated
with
flow
(34.8%
and
52.2%,
respectively),
and
channel
1,
associated
with
arousal
(21.6%
and
34.8%,
respectively).
As
for
maintenance,
taking
care
of
one's
body
and
physiological needs
were
routine
and
low-challenge
tasks
the
climbers
mainly
carried
out
in
a
passive
way.
The
highest
percentages
fell
into
channel
6,
associated
with
apathy
(28.2%),
and
channel
4,
characterized
by
relaxation
(23.9%).
Leisure
activities
prima-
rily
fell
into
channel
1
(27%)
and
channel
4
(21.9%).
This
result
seems
contradictory:
Channel
1
(Arousal)
is
characterized
by
above-average
challenges
and
around-average
skills,
whereas
channel
4
(Relaxation)
by
challenges
below
and
skills
above
average.
However,
leisure
activi-
ties
vary
in
structure
and
complexity.
Structured
and
creative
activities,
such
as
reading
and
taking
pictures,
were
sources
of
arousal.
Other
activities,
such
as
playing
cards
and
looking
at
the
landscape,
were
primarily
associated
with
a
state
of
relaxation.
Free
Choice
and
Expedition
Activities
As
shown
in
Table
3,
climbers
answered
the
question
regarding
free
choice
of
the
activity
in
925
self-reports.
Overall,
"I
wanted
to
do
it"
was
the
main
reason
for
carrying
out
an
activity
(47.1%).
In
particular,
this
is
true
of
climbing
and
camp
activities
(40.9%
and
36.9%,
respectively).
How-
ever,
these
two
categories
were
also
associated
with
free
and
no
choice
at
the
same
time,
with
40.9%
of
the
answers
for
climbing,
and
28.6%
for
camp
activities.
No
choice
("I
had
to
do
it")
was
reported
in
a
lower
percentage
of
the
answers
for
both
categories.
Even
though
camp
and
climbing
activities
were
essentially
carried
out
freely,
they
could
also
be
perceived
as
instru-
mental
for
reaching
goals
which,
nonetheless,
were
personally
chosen
and
sought
after.
As
concerns
camp
activities,
for
instance,
one
participant
perceived
walking
on
a
moraine
as
a
no-
choice
activity;
however,
he
associated
it
with
personal
enjoyment
as
a
life
goal.
Another
climber,
busy
preparing
his
rucksack,
reported
he
wanted
and
had
to
do
it.
He
mentioned
mountaineering
as
the
major
goal
of
the
activity.
As
concerns
climbing,
one
participant
re-
ported
he
had
to
carry
the
material;
however,
reaching
an
advanced
camp
was
perceived
as
the
stake.
Another
climber
reported
he
simultaneously
wanted
and
had
to
explore
the
ways
ahead.
In
this
case,
the
stake
in
the
activity
was
analyzing
the
environment
in
order
to
discern
the
right
route
to
ascend.
RISK
PERCEPTION
IN
HIGH-ALTITUDE
ROCK
CLIMBING
93
Table
3
Percentage
Distribution
of
Motives
for
Expedition
Activities
Motives
Total
(925)'
Camp
activities
(241)'
Climbing
(22)'
I
wanted
to
do
it
47.1
36.9
40.9
I
had
to
do
it
11.2
21.2
18.2
I
had
nothing
else
to
do
20.8
10.4
I
wanted
to
do
it
and
had
to
do
it
14.4
28.6
40.9
Other
combinations
6.4
2.9
100
100 100
Note.
Dashes
indicate
that
climbers
never
associated
climbing
with
the
motive
"I
had
nothing
else
to
do"
or
with
other
combinations
of
motives.
a
N
self-reports
DISCUSSION
As
maintained
by
other
researchers
(Feher,
Meyers,
&
Skelly,
1998),
rock
climbing
is
a
nontraditional,
high-risk
sport
in
which
people
daily
face
challenging
new
courses
and
envi-
ronment
changes.
Climbers
themselves
present
nontraditional
psychological
profiles
that
dif-
fer
from
the
ones
of
more
traditional
athletes,
such
as
rugby
and
football
players
(Feher
et
al.,
1998;
Rossi
&
Cereatti,
1993).
In
addition,
no
study
in
the
sport
psychology
and
recreational
domain
has
so
far
addressed
topics
such
as
the
on-line
assessment
of
the
time-budget
and
the
quality
of
experience
during
high-altitude
expeditions.
Given
the
lack
of
information
about
climbers'
time-budget,
we
first
investigated
the
distri-
bution
of
activities.
The
results
showed
that
climbers
were
mostly
involved
in
maintenance
as
well
as
camp
activities,
whereas
they
devoted
a
small
portion
of
their
time
to
climbing
itself.
This
was
partly
due
to
the
bad
weather
that
hit
the
expedition.
Moreover,
climbers
estimated
that
only
one
or
two
days
were
necessary
to
reach
the
peak
from
the
most
advanced
camp.
The
bulk
of
the
expedition
work
consisted
in
reaching
camps,
keeping
in
good
health,
and
carrying
out
basic
survival
activities.
This
is
common
to
high-altitude
expeditions:
They
usually
in-
clude
a
wide
range
of
apparently
minor
activities
that,
however,
strongly
influence
the
course
of
events,
and
are
functional
to
climbing.
Attention
has
to
be
paid
to
physical
fitness
(eating
and
resting),
and
to
technical
and
logistic
activities
(such
as
preparing
the
rucksack
and
equip-
ment,
discussing
routes
to
ascend,
and
facing
the
unpredictable
weather
conditions).
Climbing
instructors
should
provide
novice
climbers
with
this
kind
of
information. The
enthusiasm
of
the
neophyte
for
such
an
adventurous
sport
should
go
hand
in
hand
with
serious
training,
development
of
organizational
capabilities,
and
risk
awareness.
As
concerns
our
research
hypotheses,
in
line
with
previous
investigations
(Csikszentmihalyi,
1975),
climbing
proved
to
be
a
potential
source
of
optimal
experience.
Present
data
showed
that
flow
was
the
experience
most
frequently
associated
with
the
expedition
in
general
and,
above
all,
with
camp
and
climbing
activities.
The
expedition
presented
structural
characteris-
tics
that
allowed
for
flow
onset.
First
and
foremost,
optimal
experience
is
only
possible
when
real,
meaningful
outcomes
are
contingent
upon
the
skills
of
the
participant
(Ewert,
1994).
High-altitude
activities
depend
on
the
skills
of
the
climber,
and
most
of
them
offer
opportuni-
ties
for
action
(challenges)
that
are
functional
to
practical
outcomes,
ultimately
including
per-
sonal
survival.
In
this
study,
the
climbers
described
camp
and
climbing
activities
as
highly
engaging,
and
mostly
perceived
competence
in
the
task
at
hand.
94
A.
DELLE
FAVE
ET
AL.
In
addition,
one
of
the
essential
components
of
flow
is
intrinsic
motivation.
Climbers
chose
to
take
part
in
the
expedition
mainly
because
they
wanted
to,
as
emerged
from
the
analysis
of
the
free-choice
question.
In
spite
of
the
objective
physical
danger,
and
even
if
they
could
quit
the
expedition
at
any
time,
participants
joined
it
until
the
end.
According
to
the
data
and
the
expedition
project,
this
persistence
was
not
to
be
related
to
any
external
material
reward.
Ex-
pedition
and
climbing
were
associated
with
an
autotelic
experience,
in
which
climbers
re-
ceived
unique
rewards
intrinsic
to
the
activity
(Csikszentmihalyi,
1985).
During
the
expedition,
a
rather
big
portion
of
climbers'
time
was
also
associated
with
relax-
ation
(channel
4),
and
apathy
(channel
6).
This
result
can
be
related
to
the
relatively
long
period
of
inactivity
at
base
or
advanced
camps,
as
usually
happens
in
expeditions.
At
the
same
time,
the
percentage
of
questionnaires
falling
into
channel
8
(anxiety)
was
extremely
low.
In
line
with
numerous
studies
(Benzi
&
Tamorri,
1988;
Robinson,
1985),
anxiety
control
is
func-
tional
to
climbers'
survival:
If
a
climber
is
not
able
to
master
anxiety,
he/she
can
lose
control
of
the
situation,
fall
into
a
crevice,
or
be
unable
to
fully
exploit
his/her
physical
potential.
As
concerns
risk,
most
researchers
generally
agree
that
there
is
a
discrepancy
between
objective
risk
and
its
subjective
perception
(Ewert,
1994;
Delle
Fave
&
Bassi,
1999).
What
is
perceived
as
risk
and
danger
by
one
group
of
people
can
have
different
connotations
for
oth-
ers,
on
the
basis
of
personal
skills
and
past
experience.
Any
activity
can
potentially
be
risky,
when
the
individual
does
not
possess
adequate
skills
to
face
the
challenge.
Climbers
inter-
viewed
by
Csikszentmihalyi
(1975)
reported
that
past
experience
has
trained
them
to
recog-
nize
risk
associated,
say,
with
bad
weather
conditions
or
poor
physical
shape.
They
also
re-
ported
they
did
not
want
to
put
their
lives
in
danger
by
going
beyond
personal
capabilities.
In
the
present
study,
we
found
no
significant
differences
from
the
mean
for
the
risk
assess-
ment
dimension.
We
assumed
that
risk
played
a
minor
role
in
the
overall
climbing
experience,
as
in
Ewert's
(1994)
fmdings
gained
by
a
posteriori
evaluations
of
recreation-based
motiva-
tions.
Adopting
a
goal-directed
approach
in
the
interpretation
of
risk-taking
behavior,
and
applying
an
on-line
measurement
procedure,
we
observed
that
risk
taking
was
not
a
goal
per
se
but
a
means
for
climbers
to
experience
flow.
On
the
one
hand,
results
showed
that
climbing
and
camp
activities
were
prominently
associated
with
optimal
experience.
On
the
other
hand,
as
emphasized
by
Ewert,
climbers'
motivational
pattern
changes
in
accordance
with
their
level
of
experience.
The
more
skilled
they
are,
the
more
they
search
for
autotelic
motives.
In
terms
of
our
theoretical
approach,
the
more
the
climbers
face
expedition
challenges,
the
more
they
sharpen
their
skills,
and
subsequently
look
for
more
complex
challenges
in
a
dynamic
process
that
fosters
personal
growth
and
development
of
individual
life
themes.
In
this
respect,
results
associated
with
channels
4
(relaxation)
and
8
(anxiety)
showed
that
the
climbers'
team
was
particularly
susceptible
to
the
fluctuation
of
opportunities
for
action.
This
is
substantiated
by
comparing
this
sample
with
other
groups.
As
regards
channel
4,
ESM
studies
conducted
with
Italian,
American,
and
British
students
showed
that
challenges
below
and
personal
skills
above
average
were
associated
with
a
state
of
relaxation
(Csikszentmihalyi,
Rathunde,
&
Whalen,
1993;
Delle
Fave,
1996;
Haworth
&
Evans,
1995).
In
the
Italian
sample,
scores
of
mood
and
intrinsic
reward
were
positive,
as
were
the
values
of
enjoyment
and
happi-
ness
in
the
British
sample.
However,
in
channel
4
climbers
reported
passiveness
and
disen-
gagement:
The
overall
experience
was
more
similar
to
boredom
than
relaxation,
in
that
also
mood
and
intrinsic
motivation
(that
usually
score
positively)
were
either
around
average
or
negative.
Differences
from
previous
studies
were
also
found
in
relation
to
channel
8
(anxiety).
Among
Italian
adolescents,
the
values
of
mood,
confidence,
and
intrinsic
reward
were
nega-
tive
in
this
channel.
The
American
adolescents
reported
negative
values
of
involvement;
in
the
British
sample,
enjoyment,
happiness,
and
relaxation
scored
negatively.
On
the
contrary,
climb-
ers
did
not
perceive
a
globally
negative
experience,
even
if
few
variables
had
significant
scores.
RISK
PERCEPTION
IN
HIGH-ALTITUDE
ROCK
CLIMBING
95
We
can
reasonably
sustain
that
climbers'
susceptibility
to
challenge
fluctuation
is
not
related
to
the
effects
of
high
altitude.
Studies
on
physical
and
psychological
functioning
at
high
alti-
tude
have
primarily
investigated
the
effects
of
hypoxia
on
performance
(Gritti,
Banfi,
&
Roi,
2000;
Pagani,
Ravagnan,
&
Salmaso,
1998;
Sartori,
Michielin,
&
Prior,
1994).
Researchers
agree
that
a
good
acclimatization
process
counterbalances
generalized
side-effects
of
oxygen
reduction.
In
our
study,
climbers
reached
the
camps
in
subsequent
steps
so
as
to
get
acclima-
tized
to
altitude.
These
results
have
implications
in
the
area
of
risky
recreational
sports.
In
the
sport
literature
dealing
with
adventure,
the
concepts
of
risk
seeking
should
be
clearly
differentiated
from
the
search
for
challenge
and
opportunity
for
action
(Ewert,
1994).
Our
data
show
that
it
is
a
chal-
lenging
task
climbers
look
for.
In
addition,
the
perceived
level
of
challenge
is
strictly
related
to
perceived
personal
capabilities,
so
that
a
climbing
expedition
in
the
Himalaya
can
become
an
engaging
autotelic
adventure,
and
not
a
daunting
task.
Far
from
pursuing
thrilling
experiences,
climbers
mostly
reported
optimal
experience
characterized
by
a
balance
between
high
chal-
lenges
and
high
skills.
From
this
perspective,
our
results
have
practical
applications.
The
growing
interest
and
rise
in
extreme
sports
such
as
rock
climbing
make
it
necessary
to
reformulate
and
expand
outdoor
programs.
So
far,
attention
has
primarily
been
paid
to
risk
protection.
Intervention
has
con-
sisted
in
limiting
access
to
mountain
routes
and
site
development,
or
in
what
world
famous
climber
Reinhold
Messner
has
defined
the
"grotesque
attempt"
to
wipe
out
climbing
risks
by
placing
anchor
bolts
or
fixed
ropes
on
mountains
routes
(Casalegno,
2001).
This
practice,
though
useful
for
increasing
the
overall
level
of
safety,
can
also
undermine
the
very
essence
of
rock
climbing,
the
excitement
in
the
activity,
adventure,
challenge,
and
opportunities
for
highly
rewarding
experiences
such
as
flow
(Ewert,
1994).
In
addition,
nature
cannot
be
tamed
(Casalegno,
2001):
Each
year,
many
climbers
(above
all
beginners)
die
on
the
mountains
around
the
world.
Our
results
suggest
that
a
more
profitable
way
to
prevent
risk
would
be
the
assess-
ment
of
climbers'
skills
vis
a
vis
environmental
opportunities
for
action
and
challenges.
From
this
perspective,
management
programs
should
seek
to
match
participants'
skills
with
appro-
priate
activity
settings.
In
so
doing,
the
climbing
experience
could
be
preserved
and
opportu-
nities
for
optimal
experience
offered.
Our
findings
provide
additional
practical
suggestions
in
the
wake
of
the
present
concern
for
the
impact
of
the
growing
climbing
population
on
the
mountain
environment.
Recent
studies
(Hanna,
1995)
have
shown
that
past
experience
in
relation
to
wilderness
is
an
important
vari-
able
influencing
preservation
attitudes
toward
the
environment.
In
our
study,
climbers
spent
a
big
amount
of
time
in
relaxation,
a
condition
they
mostly
perceived
as
passive
and
negative.
A
profitable
way
to
offer
new
opportunities
for
action,
and
simultaneously
raise
environment
awareness
could
consist
in
providing
climbers
with
adventure
guidebooks
and/or
specific
train-
ing
on
mountain
behavior
and
preservation.
The
same
approach
could
be
used
in
adventure
education
programs
for
beginners
as
well
as
professional
climbers.
A
fmal
remark
concerns
the
methodological
approach
we
adopted
in
this
study.
In
sport
psychology,
researchers
have
successfully
used
tools,
such
as
the
Flow
State
Scale
(Jackson
&
Marsh,
1996)
specifically
designed
to
investigate
flow.
ESM,
as
a
procedure
for
assessing
time-budget
and
quality
of
experience,
had
never
been
used
before,
mainly
because
of
the
practical
difficulties
related
to
on-line
sampling.
As
a
matter
of
fact,
we
had
to
tackle
a
number
of
technical
as
well
as
methodological
problems
that
arose
at
data
gathering
and
analysis.
Many
problems
still
have
to
be
solved,
above
all
the
ones
related
to
repeated
sampling
and
dependence
of
self-reports.
One
possible
solution
would
be
to
test
a
bigger
sample
of
climbers
so
as
to
adopt
the
subject-level
analysis
of
ESM
data.
Another
solution
could
be
the
applica-
tion
of
time-series
analysis.
Because
data
are
not
equally
spaced,
a
mixed
model
would
be
96
A.
DELLE
FAVE
ET
AL.
most
suitable.
This
approach
would
consider
the
subject
(climber)
as
the
basic
statistical
unit
of
analysis,
time
as
a
repeated
random
variable,
and
type
of
activity
as
between,
fixed
effect.
Our
study
was
introductory
in
purpose,
and
raised
challenging
questions
for
future
work.
One
line
of
research
could
focus
on
the
quality
of
experience
associated
with
different
levels
of
climbing
skills,
comparing
highly-experienced
and
novice
climbers.
At
the
practical
level,
the
results
could
be
used
to
tailor
outdoor
programs
to
customers'
needs,
in
order
to
foster
skill
cultivation,
and
to
provide
opportunities
for
optimal
experience.
Future research
could
also
shed
light
on
the
role
played
by
optimal
experience
in
skill
cultivation.
Repeated
ESM
sessions
while
climbing
throughout
the
year
could
help
investigate
the
relationship
between
flow
and
skill
improvement.
Results
could
be
compared
with
other
measurements
of
individual
skills,
such
as
climbing
difficulty
ratings
and
physiological
indi-
ces.
Finally,
an
issue
indirectly
raised
in
this
study
regards
the
interaction
between
the
personal-
ity-predisposition
approach
and
the
goal-directed
approach
in
the
study
of
the
climbing
expe-
rience.
As
our
results
showed,
the
perception
of
flow
is
partly
influenced
by
the
objective
structure
of
the
activity.
However,
personality
features
also
come
into
play.
Csikszentmihalyi
(1975)
attributes
an
autotelic
personality
to
people
who
are
able
to
enjoy
what
they
are
doing
regardless
of
external
rewards.
Future
studies
could
test
the
autotelic
personality
in
the
sport
domain,
applying
both
the
ESM
and
traditional
personality
questionnaires.
In
addition,
moti-
vational
orientations
have
been
investigated
as
enduring
personality
characteristics
(Amabile,
Hill,
Hennessey,
&
Tighe,
1994).
In
sport
research,
the
joint
administration
of
ESM
and
ques-
tionnaires
such
as
the
General
Causality
Orientations
Scale
(Deci
&
Ryan,
1985)
could
shed
light
on
the
relationship
between
flow,
intrinsic
rewards
and
long-term
adherence
to
sport
practice.
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