Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 393–402 | Cite as

Flow experience in physical activity: Examination of the internal structure of flow from a process-related perspective

  • Masato Kawabata
  • Clifford J. Mallett
Original Paper


Considering the phenomenology of flow experience reflects attentional processes, Nakamura and Csikszentmihalyi (Handbook of positive psychology, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002) classified the components of flow experience into proximal conditions and the characteristics of a subjective state while being in flow. The present study was conducted to clarify the concept of flow through examination of the interrelationships among the components from a process-related perspective. A total of 1,048 participants completed the Japanese versions of the Flow State Scale-2 (Kawabata et al. in Psychol Sport Exerc 9:465–485, 2008), and based on their scores, 591 respondents were considered to be in a flow state during their physical activity. A proposed higher-order confirmatory factor model and a full structural equation model were tested for the flow respondents. The results of the higher-order model indicated that the 9 flow factors were empirically classified into the flow state and its proximal condition. Furthermore, the outcomes of the full structural model preliminarily supported the hypothesized sequential relationships among flow factors.


Flow experience Internal structure Attentional process Structural equation modeling Physical activity 



This project was partially supported by the University of Queensland Graduate School Research Travel Grant. We are grateful to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Jeanne Nakamura of Claremont Graduate University for sharing their insights into the flow concept. We also thank Robert Eklund of Florida State University and the anonymous reviewers for constructive comments on earlier drafts of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Human Movement StudiesThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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