I'm pondering the nature and relationship of several things that I think are at least loosely related: fun, rest/relaxation and escapism.

They are all things that might be loosely described as "humanistic;" things that you associate with happiness. They might also be described as "fringe needs;" we have to take care of more important things before we go into leisure mode. (However, rest is an exception, as we can hardly stay sane without sleep.)

So is there a collective term for these things? Or can they be placed in some kind of category that separates them from more familiar needs, such as security, social connections and esteem?

  • $\begingroup$ How about hedonic? $\endgroup$
    – Arnon Weinberg
    May 24 '18 at 4:54
  • $\begingroup$ Hmmm...It sounds decadent, but if it's a psychological term, then it might work. study.com/academy/lesson/… $\endgroup$ May 24 '18 at 5:08
  • $\begingroup$ Is this to be linked to your question on escapism within Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs? If so, it cannot be linked as rest and relaxation, for reasons you stated in your question, is a physiological need in he hierarchy, yet fun and escapism isn't. Fun is a broad term which can be used for many pastimes etc. but could be included in social needs, and escapism...hmm maybe safety needs, maybe esteem needs... depends on the escapism $\endgroup$ May 28 '18 at 10:50
  • $\begingroup$ Good tip. Escapism is a complex and intriguing topic I've just begun to explore. $\endgroup$ May 28 '18 at 15:25

I do not believe that there is an actual term that encompasses the three, but if you look at the functions they fulfil, you will find that they tend to give you a "break" from the stimuli that memory is repeatedly exposed to and allow the brain to process those stimuli from memory.

My thoughts on it are: re-processing information that was processed before, trying again to find the patterns and bring the information you are exposed to onto consciousness is hard work that the brain shouldn't have to do. Instead, the same stimuli can be brought from memory and processed as such during lack of exposure.

The only scientific thing that comes to my mind is a thing that comes from imagery of the visual cortex during significant activities (memorising a picture) versus non-significant activities (like being exposed to a blank picture instead of repeating the significant picture). It is called refreshing. More about it, for the scientifically-minded, here

In laymen terms, at times of non-exposure to the real stimuli your brain will automatically expose you to self-made renditions of those stimuli. This particularity of the brain involves complex cognitive functions, of which visual imagery is just an example.

This might be an assumption and an over-generalising of the findings in the paper quoted here, but it might also be true that all the terms you mentioned in your question (fun, relaxation and escapism),can be linked to periods of time of non-exposure to the stimuli that need refreshed, aka. brought to memory by a cognitive representation rather than by repeated exposure.

Now, the big difference between my proposed term and the terms you used is the fact that, scientifically, attentional refreshing has only been proven for stimuli that the brain was exposed to moments ago. For complex pieces of information and longer periods of time, it would be hard to measure the effect that non--exposure has, because of the nature of the experiments we are now conducting in cognitive and neuro psychology.

  • $\begingroup$ I see some guy named Tony Robbins came up with a hierarchy of six psychological needs that includes "variety," which appears to be related to fun and escapism. $\endgroup$ May 28 '18 at 15:11
  • $\begingroup$ However, I'm not endorsing Robbins, who appears to be more of a promoter/showman than a scientist. $\endgroup$ May 28 '18 at 15:24
  • $\begingroup$ I was thinking of saying in my answer that the concept of psychological needs, while still used pedagogically, it is not of much value otherwise, since there is little data to confirm any need for security, esteem and social connections or variety etc. That is because immaterial things like that cannot be defined, let alone quantified, and they are more culturally-defined than we wish for them to be valid concepts in the quest for understanding human nature. While esteem or status are valuable for a group, they are disregarded by others as fabrications of the media etc. $\endgroup$
    – OMan
    May 28 '18 at 18:20

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