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The psychology of hobbies (The connection between hobbies and personalities)

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

The psychology of hobbies

Why do people have different hobbies?
Why do some people have strange ones?
Why would someone collect stamps or watch horror movies?

Each single action that a person takes reflects his psychological makeup and hobbies are no different. Some people say that humans develop hobbies in order to get a relief from the stressful world they live in and while this fact is 100% true still it didn't explain why each person decides to get rid of that stress in a different way?

Hobbies reflect the inner most desires of people, help them fulfill their unmet needs and make them feel special as you will see in the next few lines.

The connection between hobbies and personalities

Here are few reasons that motivate people to develop certain hobbies.

  • 1) Compensation: Many people develop certain hobbies to compensate for certain unsatisfied emotional needs. A guy who felt powerless during his childhood might suddenly find himself in love with martial arts. By becoming more powerful that person can satisfy the emotional hunger for power he developed earlier in his childhood. That's also the reason why some of those who got bullied as children become famous fighters when they grow up. (see also How childhood experiences affect adulthood)
  • 2) Support a certain identity: Sometimes the main reason a person develops a certain hobby is to protect a certain identity. Why do you think some girls like football? its because they want to assert the identity of the strong independent woman instead of the barbie girl identity which is usually imposed on them.
  • 3) To control the world: Some people develop certain hobbies such as video games addiction in order to become in control of the imaginary world these games allow them to live in. When some people feel powerless or not in control they might look for another realm that can make them feel in control such as an imaginary world provided by a certain game. That's also the same reason why some people like action and fantasy movies
  • 4) Nostalgia: Some people start to collect stuff because they are too attached to the past. This usually happens with people who prefer their past over their present. The hobby of collecting stuff allows people to ease the insecurities that arise when good things get taken from them. Its as if they are locking their good memories in a cupboard in order to protect them from being taken away (see also Nostalgia explained)
  • 5) Channeling their emotions: Aggressive people will usually find aggressive sports more appealing than other sports. Artists, writers and painters use their hobbies to dump the experiences they go through especially the emotionally intensive ones.

People do the same hobbies for different reasons

Do all people who do a certain hobby do it for the same exact reason?
No, people can be doing the same exact hobby for completely different reasons.

Gym addicts for example might be showy people who want to attract attention, power seekers who want to become strong, narcissistic ones who want to be the best, girls who want to prove that they are tough, men who want to prove that they didn't get old or even people who have self doubts concerning their looks.

So you can't just say that a person has certain personality traits just because he likes a certain hobby but instead you need to get to know more about that person's beliefs about his hobby and the way it fits in his mental framework.

Courage and the lack of hobbies

All people, without exception, have unmet needs however not all of them try to satisfy these unmet needs. People who blame others, act like victims or have external locus of control are less likley to develop any hobbies even if they have certain important needs.

Sometimes people develop hobbies as a result of their courage to pursue their important needs. For example, some people use their hobbies to tame their fears. Some surfers or people who get involved into more dangerous sports do this in order to prove to themselves or to others that they are brave.

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