Historical Lines and an Overview of Current Research on Flow

  • Stefan Engeser
  • Anja Schiepe-Tiska


This chapter introduces the flow concept by listing the components of flow as provided by Csikszentmihalyi. We will show that these components constitute the widely shared definitional ground of researchers in the field, with only minor variation between research groups and time periods. Next, we try to clarify some lingering ambiguities regarding the components of flow, and then talk about flow as an optimal experience as well as discussing flow and happiness. Subsequently, we trace the history of flow. We take time to describe the beginnings of flow research by Csikszentmihalyi and a similar research program by Rheinberg in Germany. Following the description of flow and qualitative analyses, the quantitative method of the experience sampling method (ESM), which has greatly influenced research on flow, will be presented. Creativity and well-being remain an important part of flow research and will be considered here, but flow research has entered many other areas, spanning from a strong emphasis on sport, learning, and flow at work to the emerging research on flow in teams and social interaction or psychophysiological correlates of flow. Finally, we complete this chapter by exploring methodological aspects of the research on flow.


Flow Experience Daily Experience Optimal Experience Experience Sampling Method Rewarding Experience 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of PsychologyUniversity of TrierTrierGermany
  2. 2.Center for International Student Assessment (ZIB), TUM School of EducationTechnische Universität MünchenMunichGermany

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