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Crafts as serious hobbies: Impact and benefits in later life

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Although the creation of crafts by middle-aged and older adults is common across the globe, its significance has been overlooked in western culture. This article reviewed current research on the benefits of long-term participation in culturally meaningful creative arts and crafts (i.e., serious hobbies) and their impact on positive development in mid to late life. Creative hobbies are seen to have major benefits when practiced longterm. In addition, they often reflect aspects of one’s culture and the desire to add to that culture. A series of studies from the Synapse Project demonstrated that older adults who spent several hours a week for a few months learning to participate in a new craft activity showed improvements in their cognitive performance and neural efficiency as compared to control participants. Tomioka et al. found that participation in different types of groups, including hobby groups or volunteer groups, led to less decline in everyday functioning and independence among older adults. Adams-Price and colleagues investigated the impact of long-term practice of creative hobbies and found that serious participation in crafts may play a role in life satisfaction and successful ageing. Their work found four factors: (1) identity, (2) spirituality, (3) calming and (4) mastery/recognition from others. These factors impact life satisfaction through generativity, which is an important construct in Erikson’s theory of adult development. These studies and others, which are discussed, support the importance of crafts as a type of serious hobby that impacts cognitive and social well-being and life satisfaction among older individuals.
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Keywords: Creative Benefits Scale; cognitive benefits; crafts; creative hobbies; cultural benefits; life satisfaction; serious hobbies; social benefits

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Mississippi State University, USA

Publication date: March 1, 2018

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  • The aim of Craft Research is to advocate and promote current and emerging craft research, including research into materials, processes, methods, concepts, aesthetic and style. This may be in any discipline area of the applied arts and crafts, including craft education.

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