The Concept of Flow

Chapter

Abstract

What constitutes a good life? Few questions are of more fundamental importance to a positive psychology. Flow research has yielded one answer, providing an understanding of experiences during which individuals are fully involved in the present moment. Viewed through the experiential lens of flow, a good life is one that is characterized by complete absorption in what one does. In this chapter, we describe the flow model of optimal experience and optimal development, explain how flow and related constructs have been measured, discuss recent work in this area, and identify some promising directions for future research.

References

  1. Abuhamdeh, S. (2000). The autotelic personality: An exploratory investigation. Unpublished manuscript, University of Chicago.Google Scholar
  2. Adlai-Gail, W. (1994). Exploring the autotelic personality. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Chicago.Google Scholar
  3. Allison, M., & Duncan, M. (1988). Women, work, and flow. In M. Csikszentmihalyi & I. Csikszentmihalyi (Eds.), Optimal experience (pp. 118–137). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Berlyne, D. E. (1960). Conflict, arousal, and curiosity. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  5. Brandstadter, J. (1998). Action perspectives in human development. In R. M. Lerner (Ed.), Handbook of child psychology (Vol. 1, pp. 807–863). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  6. Carli, M., Delle Fave, Α., & Massimini, F. (1988). The quality of experience in the flow channels: Comparison of Italian and U.S. students. In M. Csikszentmihalyi & I. Csikszentmihalyi (Eds.), Optimal experience (pp. 288–306). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Colby, Α., & Damon, W. (1992). Some do care. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  8. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1978). Attention and the holistic approach to behavior. In K. S. Pope & J. L. Singer (Eds.), The stream of consciousness (pp. 335–358). New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  9. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1985). Emergent motivation and the evolution of the self. Advances in Motivation and Achievement, 4, 93–119.Google Scholar
  10. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  11. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1996). Creativity. New York: HarperCollins.Google Scholar
  12. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1997). Finding flow. New York: Basic.Google Scholar
  13. Csikszentmihalyi. M. (2000). Beyond boredom and anxiety. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. (Original work published 1975).Google Scholar
  14. Csikszentmihalyi, M., & Csikszentmihalyi, I. (Eds.). (1988). Optimal experience. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Csikszentmihalyi, M., & Larson, R. (1978). Intrinsic rewards in school crime. Crime and Delinquency, 24, 322–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Csikszentmihalyi, M., & Larson, R. (1984). Being adolescent. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  17. Csikszentmihalyi, M., & Larson, R. (1987). Validity and reliability of the experience sampling method. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 175, 526–536.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Csikszentmihalyi, M., & LeFevre, J. (1989). Optimal experience in work and leisure. Journal of Social Psychology, 56, 815–822.Google Scholar
  19. Csikszentmihalyi, M., & Nakamura, J. (1989). The dynamics of intrinsic motivation: A study of adolescents. In R. Ames & C. Ames (Eds.), Research on motivation in education: Goals and cognitions (pp. 45–71). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  20. Csikszentmihalyi, M., & Nakamura, J. (1999). Emerging goals and the self-regulation of behavior. In R. S. Wyer (Ed.), Advances in social cognition, Perspectives on behavioral self-regulation (Vol. 12, pp. 107–118). Mahwah: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  21. Csikszentmihalyi, M., & Rathunde, K. (1993). The measurement of flow in everyday life. Nebraska Symposium on Motivation, 40, 57–97.Google Scholar
  22. Csikszentmihalyi, M., & Rathunde, K. (1998). The development of the person: An experiential perspective on the ontogenesis of psychological complexity. In R. M. Lerner (Ed.), Handbook of child psychology (pp. 635–685). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  23. Csikszentmihalyi, M., Rathunde, K., & Whalen, S. (1993). Talented teenagers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Csikszentmihalyi, M., & Rich, G. (1998). Musical improvisation: A systems approach. In K. Sawyer (Ed.), Creativity in performance (pp. 43–66). Greenwich: Ablex.Google Scholar
  25. Csikszentmihalyi, M., & Robinson, R. (1990). The art of seeing. Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum and the Getty Center for Education in the Arts.Google Scholar
  26. de Charms, R. (1968). Personal causation. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  27. Deci, E. (1975). Intrinsic motivation. New York: Plenum.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Deci, E., & Ryan, R. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York: Plenum.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Delle Fave, Α., Massimini, F. (1988). Modernization and the changing contexts of flow in work and leisure. In M. Csikszentmihalyi & I. Csikszentmihalyi (Eds.), Optimal experience. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Delle Fave, A., Massimini, F. (1992). The ESM and the measurement of clinical change: A case of anxiety disorder. In M. deVries (Ed.), The experience of psychopathology (pp. 280–289). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Emerson, H. (1998). Flow and occupation: A review of the literature. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 65, 37–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Gallup P. (1998). Omnibus, III.Google Scholar
  33. Getzels, J. W., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1976). The creative vision. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  34. Hamilton, J. A. (1983). Development of interest and enjoyment in adolescence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 12, 355–372.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Haworth, J. T. (1997). Work, leisure and well-being. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Heine, C. (1996). Flow and achievement in mathematics. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Chicago.Google Scholar
  37. Hektner, J. (1996). Exploring optimal personality development: A longitudinal study of adolescents. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Chicago.Google Scholar
  38. Hektner, J., & Asakawa, K. (2000). Learning to like challenges. In M. Csikszentmihalyi & B. Schneider (Eds.), Becoming adult (pp. 95–112). New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  39. Hektner, J., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1996). A longitudinal exploration of flow and intrinsic motivation in adolescents. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New York.Google Scholar
  40. Hunt, J. (1965). Intrinsic motivation and its role in development. Nebraska Symposium on Motivation, 12, 189–282.Google Scholar
  41. Inghilleri, P. (1999). From subjective experience to cultural change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Jackson, D. (1984). Personality Research Form manual. Goshen: Research Psychologists Press.Google Scholar
  43. Jackson, S. (1995). Factors influencing the occurrence of flow state in elite athletes. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 7, 138–166.Google Scholar
  44. Jackson, S. (1996). Toward a conceptual understanding of the flow experience in elite athletes. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 67, 76–90.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Jackson, S. & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1999). Flow in sports. Champaign: Human Kinetics.Google Scholar
  46. Jackson, S., & Marsh, H. W. (1996). Development and validation of a scale to measure optimal experience: The flow state scale. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 18, 17–35.Google Scholar
  47. James, W. (1981). The principles of psychology. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. (Original work published 1890).Google Scholar
  48. Kahn, D. (2000). Montessori’s positive psychology: A lasting imprint. NAMTA Journal, 25(2), 1–5.Google Scholar
  49. Kimiecik, J. C., & Harris, A. T. (1996). What is enjoyment? A conceptual/definitional analysis with implications for sport and exercise psychology. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 18, 247–263.Google Scholar
  50. Kubey, R., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Television and the quality of life. Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  51. LeFevre, J. (1988). Flow and the quality of experience during work and leisure. In M. Csikszentmihalyi & I. Csikszentmihalyi (Eds.), Optimal experience (pp. 307–318). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Lipman-Blumen, J. (1999). Hot groups. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  53. Magnusson, D., & Stattin, H. (1998). Person-context interaction theories. In R. M. Lerner (Ed.), Handbook of child psychology (Vol. 1, pp. 685–759). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  54. Massimini, F., & Carli, M. (1988). The systematic assessment of flow in daily experience. In M. Csikszentmihalyi & I. Csikszentmihalyi (Eds.), Optimal experience (pp. 266–287). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Massimini, F., Csikszentmihalyi, M., & Carli, M. (1987). The monitoring of optimal experience: A tool for psychiatric rehabilitation. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 175(9), 545–549.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Massimini, F., & Delle Fave, A. (2000). Individual development in a bio-cultural perspective. American Psychologist, 55, 24–33.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  57. Mayers, P. (1978). Flow in adolescence and its relation to school experience. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Chicago.Google Scholar
  58. McAdams, D. P. (1990). The person. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.Google Scholar
  59. Mead, G. H. (1934). Mind, self and society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  60. Moneta, G., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1996). The effect of perceived challenges and skills on the quality of subjective experience. Journal of Personality, 64, 275–310.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  61. Nakamura, J. (1988). Optimal experience and the uses of talent. In M. Csikszentmihalyi & I. Csikszentmihalyi (Eds.), Optimal experience (pp. 319–326). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Noelle-Neumann, Ε. (1995, Spring). Allensbach Archives, AWA.Google Scholar
  63. Parks, B. (1996). “Flow,” boredom, and anxiety in therapeutic work. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Chicago.Google Scholar
  64. Patton, J. (1999). Exploring the relative outcomes of interpersonal and intrapersonal factors of order and entropy in adolescence: A longitudinal study. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Chicago.Google Scholar
  65. Perry, S. K. (1999). Writing in flow. Cincinnati: Writer’s Digest Books.Google Scholar
  66. Rathunde, K. (1988). Optimal experience and the family context. In M. Csikszentmihalyi & I. Csikszentmihalyi (Eds.), Optimal experience (pp. 342–363). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Rathunde, K. (1996). Family context and talented adolescents’ optimal experience in school-related activities. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 6, 605–628.Google Scholar
  68. Rathunde, K. (1997). Parent-adolescent interaction and optimal experience. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 26, 669–689.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Rebeiro, K. L., & Polgar, J. M. (1998). Enabling occupational performance: Optimal experiences in therapy. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 66, 14–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Renninger, Κ. A., Hidi, S., & Krapp, A. (1992). The role of interest in learning and development. Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  71. Richardson, A. (1999). Subjective experience: Its conceptual status, method of investigation, and psychological significance. Journal of Personality, 133, 185–469.Google Scholar
  72. Schmidt, J. (2000). Overcoming challenges: The role of opportunity, action, and experience in fostering resilience among adolescents. Manuscript submitted for publication.Google Scholar
  73. Shernoff, D., Knauth, S., & Makris, E. (2000). The quality of classroom experiences. In M. Csikszentmihalyi & B. Schneider (Eds.), Becoming adult (pp. 141–164). New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  74. Snyder, C. R., Feldman, D. B., Taylor, J. D., Schroeder, L. L., & Adams, V. A. (2000). The roles of hopeful thinking in preventing problems and promoting strengths. Applied and Preventive Psychology: Current Science Perspective, 15, 262–295.Google Scholar
  75. Trevino, L., & Trevino, J. (1992). Flow in computer-mediated communication. Communication Research, 19, 539–573.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Turner, V. (1974). Liminal to liminoid in play, flow, and ritual: An essay in comparative symbology. Rice University Studies, 60(3), 53–92.Google Scholar
  77. Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in society. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  78. Webster, J., & Martocchio, J. (1993). Turning work into play: Implications for microcomputer software training. Journal of Management, 19, 127–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Wells, A. (1988). Self-esteem and optimal experience. In M. Csikszentmihalyi & I. Csikszentmihalyi (Eds.), Optimal experience (pp. 327–341). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  80. Whalen, S. (1999). Challenging play and the cultivation of talent: Lessons from the Key School’s flow activities room. In N. Colangelo & S. Assouline (Eds.), Talent development III (pp. 409–411). Scottsdale: Gifted Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  81. White, R. (1959). Motivation reconsidered: The concept of competence. Psychological Review, 66, 297–333.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Behavioral & Organizational ScienceClaremont Graduate UniversityClaremontUSA
  2. 2.The University of ChicagoChicagoUSA

Personalised recommendations