Legacy, Leisure and the ‘Work Hard – Play Hard’ Hypothesis

Lonnie W. Aarssen*, Laura Crimi
Department of Biology, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, K7L 3N6, Canada

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© Aarssen and Crimi; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International Public License (CC BY-NC 4.0) (, which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

Correspondence: Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Biology, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, K7L 3N6; Canada; E-mail:


Do people who work hard also tend to play hard? We tested this hypothesis using an online questionnaire-based study of a large volunteer sample of university undergraduate students. Participants responded to questions designed to detect variation in attraction to accomplishment/fame (or ‘work’) and attraction to leisure (or ‘play’). Additional questions were asked, for use in post-hoc exploratory analyses, to evaluate attraction to parenthood and attraction to religion, as well as assessment of mortality salience and negative mood. Using partial correlation analyses, by far the strongest pairwise relationship was between attraction to accomplishment and attraction to leisure. Both were also positively correlated with mortality salience. Multi-dimensional scaling analysis distinguished two clusters (groups) of participants suggesting two general categories of mortality anxiety buffering strategies involving legacy delusion: one incorporating primarily religion combined with parenthood — a ‘religious family-oriented’ type — and one involving primarily accomplishment (also with attraction to parenthood), but combined strongly with leisure in place of religion — a ‘secular go-getter’; the ‘work hard – play hard’ type.

Keywords: Legacy drive, leisure drive, mortality salience, parenthood, religion.