From Flow to Optimal Experience: (Re)Searching the Quality of Subjective Experience Throughout Daily Life

  • Teresa Freire


In recent decades, flow and optimal experience has been a significant focus of research and theoretical development within the psychological field. But, the understanding of flow is still fragmented, and it remains far from being well understood in all its affective, motivational, cognitive, and physiological dimensions. The main purpose of this chapter is to present a synthesis of a series of Portuguese studies investigating flow and optimal experience in different life contexts and populations in order to contribute to a deep analysis of these concepts. Several on-going studies define research lines focused on four main life contexts (school, family, leisure, and therapy), with participants from four main populations (adolescents, young adults, adults and the elderly). Different methods have been used, including one-time self-report instruments and online measures (Experience Sampling Method). Methodological issues are considered in order to analyze how different methods affect the evaluation of flow and the experience per se and their pertinence for theoretical considerations. Results are shown in two directions: findings that reinforce the actual model and characteristics of the optimal experience, and findings that introduce new issues for theoretical discussion. Discussion highlights some main topics contributing to current research and sheds light on future directions, such as meanings and consciousness of flow state, fitness of physiological and psychological patterns of subjective experience, impact of the methods and characteristics of subjective experience, and the study of human complexity.


Subjective Experience Optimal Experience Research Line Motivational Dimension Experience Sampling Method 
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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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of MinhoBragaPortugal

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