This study attempted to show how autotelic people who live in a non-Western culture feel, behave, and think in their daily lives. Using a sample of 315 Japanese college students, a series of correlation analyses were conducted between the frequency of flow experience as an indicator of autotelic personality and a broad range of well-being measures. A distribution analysis revealed that on average Japanese college students experienced flow more than a “few times a year,” but less than “once a month.” In the examination of relations between flow and well-being measures, autotelic Japanese college students, or those who experienced flow more often in their daily lives, were more likely to show higher self-esteem and lower anxiety, use active coping strategies more often and use passive coping strategies less often, as compared to their less autotelic counterparts. They were more likely to report active commitments to college life, search for future career, and daily activities in general. They also reported more Jujitsu-kan, a Japanese sense of fulfillment, and greater satisfaction with their lives. Implications of these findings are discussed in terms of what experiencing flow means and what effects flow potentially has for college students in a non-Western culture.
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The author wishes to thank Dr. Mihly Csikszentmihaly, Dr. Jeanne Nakamura, and Ms. Loren Bryant for their helpful comments and advice on earlier versions of this article.
Flow quotations (adapted from Csikszentmihalyi et al. 1993)
Do you ever do something where your concentration is so intense, your attention so undivided and wrapped up in what you are doing that you sometimes become unaware of things you normally notice (for instance, other people talking, loud noises, the passage of time, being hungry or tired, having an appointment, having some physical discomfort)?
Do you ever do something where your skills have become so “second nature” that sometimes everything seems to come to you “naturally” or “effortlessly,” and where you feel confident that you will be ready to meet any new challenges?
Do you ever do something where you feel that the activity is worth doing in itself? In other words, even if there were no other benefits associated with it (for instance, financial reward, improved skills, recognition from others, and so on), you would still do it?
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Asakawa, K. Flow Experience, Culture, and Well-being: How Do Autotelic Japanese College Students Feel, Behave, and Think in Their Daily Lives?. J Happiness Stud 11, 205–223 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-008-9132-3