Everyday aesthetics and meaningful occupation: Creating beauty, relaxation, and connection worldwide



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The purpose of this study was to query the relationship of everyday aesthetic emotion to meaningful occupation. The study tested the working hypothesis that the open source database of video stories collected by the World Federation of Occupational Therapy’s Occupational Narratives Project would contain evidence of aesthetic emotions expressed through the language and behavior of the person featured in the video story as they discussed and demonstrated their meaningful occupation. This database provided the sampling frame (N = 142) of international narratives of meaningful occupation. A purposive stratified sample (n = 77) was obtained for maximum variation of English language/subtitled video stories. A mixed methods approach to content analysis was used to collect and analyze data from each video story as the basic unit of analysis. The qualitative methods included inductive open coding and a priori theoretical coding of language, behavior, and environment. Cognitive mapping was used to explore the relationships between the codes. Quantitative methods included multiple linear and logistic regressions. ANOVA was also performed. Positive and negative aesthetic emotions expressed through language and elaborative behaviors were detected in the qualitative data using the Aesthetic Emotion Inference Tool (AEIT). The aesthetic emotions of Delighted/Feeling Beauty and Relaxed/Relaxing were the most frequently occurring codes. Region was the only category to show a significant correlation to elaborative behavior (shaping and embellishing); χ2(3) = 12.822, p < .005, Cramer’s V = .408. This moderate effect was shown between Australia/Africa/Asia and South America. The presence of aesthetic emotions and elaborative behaviors throughout the data suggests a relationship exists between feeling aesthetic emotions, doing elaborative behaviors, and making meaning through occupation. The Relaxed/Relaxing codes directly link meaningful occupation to health and wellbeing by identifying relaxation and stress relief as an outcome of doing occupation. The pervasiveness of aesthetic emotions and elaborative behaviors across all categories of the data suggests this may be a productive focus for future investigations of occupation.



Health Sciences, Rehabilitation and Therapy