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Flow State - The Practice & The Neuroscience

Updated: Apr 27, 2023

Dr Oliver Finlay



KEY POINTS

1. Flow state is a psychological state of optimal experience characterised by engagement, focus, and enjoyment.

2. Flow has been widely studied in various domains and is associated with high performance, creativity, and well-being.

3. Flow can be measured using self-report scales or physiological measures.

4. The physiology of flow involves a decrease in prefrontal cortex activity and an increase in anterior cingulate cortex and striatum activity.

5. Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is a flow-like mental state induced by specific audio-visual stimuli, characterised by relaxation and pleasure, and associated with reduced stress and anxiety. However, there are differences between flow and ASMR, including the type of stimuli that elicits the experience and the cognitive processing involved.


Flow state, also known as "being in the zone," is a psychological state of optimal experience, characterised by a deep sense of engagement, focus, and enjoyment in an activity, where the individual experiences a complete immersion in the present moment losing track of time and self-consciousness.


Flow was first introduced by Csikszentmihalyi and colleagues in the 1970s and has since been widely studied in various domains such as sports, music, and work, and is associated with high performance, creativity and a sense of well-being. This state is characterised by a sense of control, concentration, enjoyment, and a challenge-skill balance.


Csikszentmihalyi defined eight characteristics of flow: 1) intense and focused concentration on the present moment, 2) merging of action and awareness, 3) a loss of self-consciousness, 4) a sense of control over the situation, 5) altered sense of time, 6) experience of the activity as intrinsically rewarding, 7) a desire to repeat the activity, and 8) immediate feedback.


Flow has been extensively studied in various domains such as sports, music, work, and gaming. Researchers have identified several factors that contribute to the experience of flow, including clear goals, immediate feedback, a balance between perceived challenge and skill, a sense of control, a loss of self-awareness, and a transformation of time. Several studies have also suggested that flow is associated with enhanced performance, increased learning, and improved well-being (Jackson, Thomas, Marsh, & Smethurst, 2001; Csikszentmihalyi & Csikszentmihalyi, 1988).


In recent years, there has been increasing interest in the use of flow in the workplace. Research has shown that flow can lead to improved productivity and job satisfaction. Some companies are incorporating flow into their organizational culture by encouraging employees to engage in tasks that promote flow and by providing an environment that supports flow experiences.


Overall, the concept of flow has important implications for our understanding of optimal experience and human performance. By promoting flow, individuals and organizations can potentially improve productivity, creativity, and well-being.





Measuring Flow State

There are several tools available to measure flow, including the Flow State Scale, which was developed by Jackson and Marsh in 1996. Both the Flow State Scale-2 (FSS-2) or the Flow State Scale (FSS) are subjective self-report scales, which ask individuals to rate their experience of flow state based on a set of 9 standardised dimensions of flow: challenge-skills balance; action-awareness merging; clear goals; unambiguous feedback; concentration on the task at hand; sense of control; loss of self-consciousness; transformation of time; and autotelic experience. Additionally, flow state can be objectively measured using physiological measures such as heart rate variability, skin conductance, and cortisol levels.


The Physiology of Flow State

The physiology of flow state is characterised by a decrease in the activity of the prefrontal cortex, which is associated with self-monitoring and self-criticism, and an increase in the activity of the anterior cingulate cortex and striatum, which are associated with reward and attention. This shift in brain activity creates a sense of effortless control and automaticity in the activity, which facilitates the experience of flow state.


The Neuroscience of Flow State

The neuroscience of flow state has been studied using brain imaging techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG). These studies have shown that flow state is associated with changes in brain activity patterns and connectivity between brain regions, particularly in the prefrontal cortex, insula, and striatum.


Functional and Structural Changes to the Brain

Repeated bouts of flow state can lead to changes in the structure and function of the brain. Studies have shown that engaging in activities that induce flow state, such as playing music or sports, can lead to increases in grey matter volume in the areas of the brain associated with the activity. Additionally, engaging in activities that induce flow state can lead to changes in the connectivity between brain regions, which can improve cognitive function and overall brain health.





Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response

In recent years, a new phenomenon called Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) has emerged, which has been described as a flow-like mental state induced by specific audio-visual stimuli.


ASMR is described as a tingling sensation that starts in the scalp and moves down the neck and spine, elicited by specific audio-visual stimuli, such as whispering, tapping, or crinkling sounds (Barratt & Davis, 2015). This phenomenon has been described as a flow-like mental state because it is characterised by a sense of relaxation, pleasure, and a loss of self-awareness. ASMR has been associated with reduced stress and anxiety, improved mood, and increased empathy (Barratt & Davis, 2015; Kotler & Wheal, 2017).


Although flow and ASMR share some similarities, they also have some differences. One of the main differences is the type of stimuli that elicit these experiences. Flow is typically induced by activities that require active engagement, such as sports, music, and work, while ASMR is induced by passive exposure to audio-visual stimuli. Another difference is the cognitive processing involved in each experience. Flow is associated with a deep level of engagement and cognitive control, while ASMR is associated with a more relaxed and passive state of mind. Additionally, flow is typically associated with a sense of accomplishment and mastery, while ASMR is associated with a sense of comfort and relaxation.


Neurophysiology of Flow State and ASMR

Despite these differences, there may be some underlying mechanisms that contribute to both flow and ASMR experiences. One potential mechanism is the role of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is associated with pleasure and reward. Several studies have suggested that flow and ASMR are associated with increased dopamine release in the brain (Dietrich, 2004; Keeler et al., 2015). Another potential mechanism is the role of the default mode network (DMN), a brain network that is activated during passive introspection and deactivated during external focused attention. Both flow and ASMR have been associated with a deactivation of the DMN (Barratt & Davis, 2015; Payne, Jackson, Noh, & Stine-Morrow, 2011).






REFERENCES & EVALUATION OF SCIENTIFIC POWER

Barratt, E.L. and Davis, N.J., 2015. Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR): a flow-like mental state. PeerJ, 3, p.e851.


OVERVIEW: The paper explores the phenomenon of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR), a tingling sensation that some people experience in response to certain auditory or visual stimuli, and its potential link to a flow-like mental state. The authors conducted a survey of ASMR experiencers and non-experiencers to investigate their experiences and perceptions of the sensation.

STRENGTHS: One strength of the study is its use of a large sample size (over 2,000 participants), which provides a robust dataset for analysis. The authors also use a well-defined set of criteria for identifying ASMR experiencers, which helps to ensure that the survey results accurately reflect the experiences of people who actually experience the phenomenon. Additionally, the paper provides a detailed description of the survey methodology, including the questions asked and the statistical analysis performed.

LIMITATIONS: One limitation of the study is its reliance on self-reported data, which may be subject to biases and inaccuracies. Additionally, the survey was only available in English, which may have limited the diversity of the sample population. The authors also note that their findings may be subject to selection bias, as the survey was distributed primarily through ASMR-related websites and social media, which may have attracted a higher proportion of ASMR experiencers.

SUMMARY: Overall, the paper provides a valuable contribution to the understanding of ASMR and its potential link to a flow-like mental state. The authors' survey provides insight into the experiences and perceptions of both ASMR experiencers and non-experiencers, and their analysis sheds light on the potential factors that may contribute to the phenomenon.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE to STRONG -The study is well-designed and executed, with a large sample size and a detailed survey methodology. However, the reliance on self-reported data and the potential for selection bias may limit the generalisability of the findings. Nonetheless, the study provides a valuable contribution to the field of ASMR research and serves as a starting point for future investigations into this phenomenon.



Chen, H., 2006. Flow on the net–detecting Web users’ positive affects and their flow states. Computers in Human Behavior, 22(2), pp.221-233.


OVERVIEW: Chen (2006) conducted a study on detecting positive affects and flow states of web users. The study utilised self-report questionnaires and physiological measures to assess the flow states of web users. The aim of the study was to understand the nature of flow states experienced by web users and to identify the factors that promote flow states during web-based activities.

STRENGTHS: The study used a well-established and validated measurement tool for assessing flow states in the context of web-based activities. The study also collected physiological measures in addition to self-report measures, which provides a more comprehensive assessment of flow states. Chen (2006) also conducted a thorough literature review and identified several factors that promote flow states during web-based activities.

LIMITATIONS: The study relied on self-report measures, which may be subject to response biases such as social desirability bias. Additionally, the study utilised a convenience sample of university students, which limits the generalisability of the findings to other populations. Furthermore, the study did not control for other factors that may influence flow states such as personality traits, cognitive abilities, and prior experience with web-based activities.

SUMMARY: Overall, Chen (2006) provides a valuable contribution to the understanding of flow states in the context of web-based activities. The study utilised a comprehensive approach to measure flow states, including both self-report measures and physiological measures. However, the study is limited by the reliance on self-report measures and a convenience sample.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE -While the study utilised well-established and validated measurement tools, the reliance on self-report measures and a convenience sample limits the generalisability of the findings. Additionally, the study did not control for other factors that may influence flow states, which may confound the results. Nevertheless, the study provides a valuable contribution to the understanding of flow states in the context of web-based activities and can serve as a foundation for future research.


Csikszentmihalyi, M., and Csikszentmihalyi, I. S. (Eds.)., 1988. Optimal experience: Psychological studies of flow in consciousness. Cambridge University Press.

OVERVIEW: Csikszentmihalyi and Csikszentmihalyi's 1988 book presents a seminal theory on the concept of flow, which describes the optimal state of human experience characterised by the merging of action and awareness. The book presents a collection of studies and theoretical reflections on the concept of flow, its antecedents, consequences, and conditions, as well as its relationship with creativity, happiness, and personal growth.

STRENGTHS: The book presents a comprehensive theoretical framework on the concept of flow, drawing on multiple disciplines, such as psychology, philosophy, anthropology, and sociology. The book presents empirical evidence from multiple studies that support the validity and reliability of the concept of flow and its measurement. The book offers practical implications and applications of the concept of flow in various domains, such as education, work, sports, and leisure.

LIMITATIONS: The book relies primarily on qualitative research methods and self-report measures, which may limit the generalisability and validity of the findings. The book does not address some of the criticisms and challenges to the concept of flow, such as its cultural specificity, its potential for exploitation, and its relationship with power and social inequality. The book may be challenging for readers who are not familiar with the theoretical and technical language of psychology and related disciplines.

SUMMARY: Csikszentmihalyi and Csikszentmihalyi's 1988 book "Optimal Experience: Psychological Studies of Flow in Consciousness" presents a seminal theory on the concept of flow, which describes the optimal state of human experience characterised by the merging of action and awareness. The book draws on multiple disciplines and empirical evidence to support the validity and reliability of the concept of flow and its measurement. The book offers practical implications and applications of the concept of flow in various domains, but also faces some LIMITATIONS, such as relying primarily on qualitative research methods and self-report measures, and not addressing some of the criticisms and challenges to the concept of flow.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: STRONG - Overall, Csikszentmihalyi and Csikszentmihalyi's 1988 book "Optimal Experience: Psychological Studies of Flow in Consciousness" presents a highly influential and seminal theory on the concept of flow, which has been widely adopted and applied in various domains. The book draws on multiple disciplines and empirical evidence to support the validity and reliability of the concept of flow and its measurement. However, the book also faces some limitations, such as relying primarily on qualitative research methods and self-report measures, and not addressing some of the criticisms and challenges to the concept of flow. Nonetheless, the book's theoretical framework, empirical evidence, and practical applications make it a significant contribution to the field of positive psychology and human experience.



Csikszentmihalyi, M., 1990. Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York: Harper & Row.


OVERVIEW: "Flow: The psychology of optimal experience" is a book written by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi that discusses the concept of flow, which refers to a mental state of complete immersion and concentration in an activity. Csikszentmihalyi explores the psychological benefits of experiencing flow and suggests ways to achieve it in various aspects of life.

STRENGTHS: The book is based on extensive research by the author, who has conducted numerous studies on the concept of flow. It provides a comprehensive overview of the psychological and neurological processes underlying the flow state. The book also offers practical suggestions on how to enhance the experience of flow in various activities, including work, leisure, and creative pursuits.

LIMITATIONS: One potential limitation of the book is that it is focused primarily on anecdotal evidence and case studies, rather than rigorous scientific studies. While Csikszentmihalyi's research has provided important insights into the nature of flow, some critics have argued that his work lacks the kind of empirical evidence needed to support his claims. Additionally, the book may not be as relevant to people who are not interested in psychology or self-improvement.

SUMMARY: "Flow: The psychology of optimal experience" is a popular psychology book that explores the concept of flow, which refers to a mental state of complete immersion and concentration in an activity. The book is based on extensive research by the author and provides practical suggestions on how to enhance the experience of flow in various activities.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE to STRONG - While this is not a scientific paper; it has had a significant impact on the field of psychology and has inspired a great deal of research on the concept of flow. The book is based on the author's own research, as well as that of other psychologists, and presents a coherent theoretical framework for understanding the nature of flow. However, some critics have argued that the book relies too heavily on anecdotal evidence and lacks the kind of rigorous empirical research needed to fully support its claims. Overall, the book has had significant impact on the field and the insights it has provided into the nature of flow.



Csikszentmihalyi, M., Abuhamdeh, S. and Nakamura, J., 2005. Flow. Handbook of competence and motivation, pp.598-608.


OVERVIEW: The article "Flow" is a chapter in the Handbook of Competence and Motivation, written by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a pioneer in the study of flow, along with co-authors Abuhamdeh and Nakamura. The chapter provides an overview of the concept of flow, its antecedents and consequences, and the methods for studying flow.

STRENGTHS: The chapter provides a comprehensive overview of the concept of flow, drawing upon research from various fields, including psychology, sociology, and anthropology. The chapter discusses the different methodological approaches for studying flow, including self-report measures, experience sampling, and physiological measures. The authors also discuss the application of flow in various domains, including education, work, and leisure.

LIMITATIONS: While the chapter discusses various methodological approaches to studying flow, it does not provide much empirical data or specific examples of flow experiences. The chapter focuses primarily on the antecedents and consequences of flow, rather than delving into the cognitive or affective processes underlying the experience. The chapter was published in 2005 and does not cover more recent research on flow.

SUMMARY: "Flow" is a comprehensive overview of the concept of flow, its antecedents and consequences, and the methods for studying flow. The chapter provides a useful resource for researchers and practitioners interested in the topic, although it lacks empirical data and focuses primarily on the antecedents and consequences of flow.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - While the chapter provides a comprehensive overview of the concept of flow and its antecedents and consequences, it does not provide much empirical data or delve into the underlying cognitive or affective processes. Additionally, the chapter was published in 2005, and does not cover more recent research on flow. Nonetheless, the chapter provides a useful resource for researchers and practitioners interested in the topic.



Dietrich, A., 2004. Neurocognitive mechanisms underlying the experience of flow. Consciousness and Cognition, 13(4), pp.746-761.


OVERVIEW: The article investigates the neurocognitive mechanisms that underlie the experience of flow, which is a state of optimal experience characterised by intense focus, absorption, and enjoyment. The author reviews the literature on flow and proposes a neurobiological model that explains the cognitive and emotional processes involved in the experience of flow. The model suggests that flow is associated with changes in brain activity that facilitate the integration of attention, perception, and action. The article concludes by discussing the implications of the model for understanding the nature of consciousness and creativity.

STRENGTHS: The article provides a comprehensive review of the literature on flow, covering both empirical research and theoretical perspectives. The author proposes a detailed neurobiological model that explains the cognitive and emotional processes underlying the experience of flow. The article offers insights into the nature of consciousness and creativity, and how flow may facilitate these processes.

LIMITATIONS: The proposed model is largely based on theoretical speculation and requires further empirical validation. The article focuses mainly on the neurobiological mechanisms underlying flow and does not consider other factors that may contribute to the experience of flow, such as environmental or social factors. The article does not discuss potential individual differences in the experience of flow, which may vary based on personality, motivation, or other factors.

SUMMARY: Overall, the article offers a valuable contribution to the understanding of the neurocognitive mechanisms underlying the experience of flow. The proposed model provides a framework for future research on flow and offers insights into the nature of consciousness and creativity. However, the model requires further empirical validation and should be considered alongside other perspectives on flow.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE to STRONG - The article provides a comprehensive review of the literature on flow and proposes a detailed neurobiological model that offers insights into the cognitive and emotional processes involved in the experience of flow. However, the proposed model is largely based on theoretical speculation and requires further empirical validation. Additionally, the article focuses mainly on the neurobiological mechanisms underlying flow and does not consider other factors that may contribute to the experience of flow. Overall, the article makes a valuable contribution to the field of flow research and provides a useful framework for future studies.



Jackson, S.A., 1995. Factors influencing the occurrence of flow state in elite athletes. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 7(2), pp.138-166.


OVERVIEW: The article focuses on the flow state in elite athletes. Flow, also known as "optimal experience," is characterised by a sense of complete absorption in an activity, loss of self-consciousness, and a sense of control over the task at hand. This study aimed to investigate the factors that influence the occurrence of flow states in elite athletes.

STRENGTHS: The study provides valuable insights into the factors that contribute to the occurrence of flow states in elite athletes. The author employed a qualitative methodology and conducted interviews with elite athletes to gather data. The use of interviews allowed for in-depth exploration of the athletes' experiences, perceptions, and emotions related to the flow state. The author also used a rigorous coding process to analyse the data, which enhances the credibility of the findings. The study's findings can be useful for coaches and athletes in designing training programs that promote optimal performance.

LIMITATIONS: One of the limitations of the study is that it relied on self-reported data from athletes, which may not accurately reflect their experiences during the flow state. Additionally, the study only focused on elite athletes, and the findings may not be generalisable to the general population. The study also did not investigate the relationship between flow state and athletic performance, which could be an important area of research.

SUMMARY: The article explores the factors that contribute to the occurrence of flow states in elite athletes. The study used a qualitative methodology and conducted interviews with athletes to gather data. The findings provide valuable insights into the factors that contribute to the flow state in athletes, which can be useful for coaches and athletes in designing training programs that promote optimal performance.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - The study's qualitative methodology and rigorous coding process enhance the credibility of the findings. However, the reliance on self-reported data and the study's focus on elite athletes limit its generalisability. Additionally, the study did not investigate the relationship between flow state and athletic performance, which could be an important area of research.



Jackson, S.A., 1996. Toward a conceptual understanding of the flow experience in elite athletes. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 67(1), pp.76-90.


OVERVIEW: The paper explores the experience of flow in elite athletes. The author aimed to provide a conceptual framework for understanding flow in sports and to explore the antecedents, characteristics, and consequences of flow states in athletes. The study utilised a qualitative methodology, involving interviews with 20 elite athletes from a variety of sports.

STRENGTHS: The study used a qualitative methodology, which allowed for in-depth exploration of the athletes' experiences of flow. The author used a grounded theory approach to analyse the data, which helped to ensure that the conceptual framework was based on the athletes' experiences rather than preconceived ideas. The study focused on elite athletes, who are likely to experience flow more frequently and intensely than non-elite athletes.

LIMITATIONS: The sample size was relatively small, with only 20 athletes included in the study. The study relied on self-reported experiences of flow, which may be subject to bias or memory distortion. The study focused exclusively on elite athletes, so the findings may not generalise to non-elite athletes or individuals in other domains.

SUMMARY: Jackson's (1996) paper provides a conceptual framework for understanding the experience of flow in elite athletes. The study highlights the antecedents, characteristics, and consequences of flow states in this population, based on in-depth interviews with 20 athletes. The study's qualitative methodology and grounded theory approach provide a rich and nuanced understanding of the athletes' experiences of flow.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - While the qualitative methodology and grounded theory approach provide a solid foundation for understanding flow in elite athletes, the small sample size and reliance on self-reported experiences of flow limit the study's generalisability and potential impact. Nonetheless, the study is an important contribution to the literature on flow in sports and provides a useful conceptual framework for future research in this area.



Jackson, S.A. and 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(1), pp.17-35.


OVERVIEW: The paper aimed to develop a reliable and valid measure of flow, called the Flow State Scale (FSS). The FSS assesses various dimensions of flow, including the subjective experience of time, the merging of action and awareness, and the sense of control. The authors used both qualitative and quantitative methods to develop and validate the scale.

STRENGTHS: One of the main strengths of this paper is that it presents a rigorous and comprehensive approach to developing a measure of flow. The authors used multiple methods to ensure the validity and reliability of the FSS, including conducting interviews with athletes and coaches, piloting the scale with various groups, and conducting factor analyses. The FSS has since been widely used in research on flow and has been found to be a valid and reliable measure.

LIMITATIONS: One limitation of this paper is that the sample used to develop and validate the FSS consisted primarily of athletes, which may limit the generalisability of the scale to other populations. Additionally, while the FSS has been found to be a reliable measure of flow, some researchers have criticised the scale for being too focused on the cognitive aspects of flow and not fully capturing the affective and motivational dimensions of the experience.

SUMMARY: Overall, the paper presents a strong contribution to the study of flow by developing a reliable and valid measure of the experience. However, the sample used in the study was limited and some aspects of the experience may not be fully captured by the scale.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: STRONG - The authors used a rigorous and comprehensive approach to developing and validating the FSS, which has since been widely used and found to be a valid and reliable measure of flow. Additionally, the paper has had a significant impact on the field of sport psychology and the study of flow more broadly.



Jackson, S.A., Thomas, P.R., Marsh, H.W. and Smethurst, C.J., 2001. Relationships between flow, self-concept, psychological skills, and performance. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 13(2), pp.129-153.


OVERVIEW: This study aimed to investigate the relationship between flow, self-concept, psychological skills, and performance. The study hypothesised that psychological skills and self-concept would predict flow, which in turn would predict performance.

STRENGTHS: The study used a well-established measure of flow, the Flow State Scale, to assess the experience of flow in athletes. A large sample size of 547 athletes was used, allowing for a more comprehensive analysis of the relationships between the variables. The study used a multivariate analysis, including structural equation modelling, to examine the relationships between the variables.

LIMITATIONS: The study used a cross-sectional design, which does not allow for causal inferences to be made. It is possible that the relationships between the variables could be bidirectional or that other factors may influence the relationships. The study relied on self-reported measures of flow, self-concept, and psychological skills, which may be subject to response bias and social desirability bias. The study was limited to a sample of athletes, and the findings may not generalise to other populations.

SUMMARY: The study found that psychological skills and self-concept were positively related to flow, which in turn was positively related to performance. These findings suggest that enhancing psychological skills and self-concept may promote the experience of flow, which may improve performance in athletic contexts.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - While the large sample size and use of multivariate analysis are strengths, the cross-sectional design and reliance on self-reported measures are limitations that limit the ability to draw causal conclusions and generalisability to other populations.



Jackson, S.A. and Eklund, R.C., 2002. Assessing flow in physical activity: The flow state scale–2 and dispositional flow scale–2. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 24(2), pp.133-150.


OVERVIEW: This study aimed to develop and validate two scales for measuring flow experiences in physical activity - the Flow State Scale-2 (FSS-2) and the Dispositional Flow Scale-2 (DFS-2). The FSS-2 assesses state flow experiences, while the DFS-2 measures dispositional tendencies towards flow. The study involved three stages: item generation, reliability and validity testing, and validation with an independent sample.

STRENGTHS: The study employs rigorous psychometric methods to develop and validate two scales for measuring flow experiences in physical activity. The FSS-2 and DFS-2 are based on the previous Flow State Scale and Dispositional Flow Scale, but with improved items and factor structures. The scales have high internal consistency and test-retest reliability and demonstrate good construct validity, convergent validity, and discriminant validity.

LIMITATIONS: The study only focuses on flow experiences in physical activity, which may limit the generalisability of the scales to other domains. The study does not investigate the predictive validity of the scales, which would require further research.

SUMMARY: The study successfully develops and validates two scales - the Flow State Scale-2 and Dispositional Flow Scale-2 - for measuring flow experiences in physical activity. The scales have good psychometric properties and demonstrate good construct validity, convergent validity, and discriminant validity.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: STRONG - The study employs rigorous psychometric methods, and the scales have high internal consistency, test-retest reliability, and good validity. The study contributes to the field by providing researchers and practitioners with reliable and valid scales for measuring flow experiences in physical activity.



Kabat-Zinn, J., 2013. Full catastrophe living: using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain, and illness. Rev. and updated edition, Bantam Books trade paperback edition. New York, Bantam Books.


OVERVIEW: "Full Catastrophe Living" is a self-help book written by Jon Kabat-Zinn, an American professor of medicine and founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). The book is aimed at providing a guide for people who are struggling with stress, pain, and illness. It is based on the principles of mindfulness and meditation and provides practical advice and exercises for readers to incorporate these practices into their daily lives.

STRENGTHS: The book is well-written and provides clear and practical guidance for readers to learn and practice mindfulness and meditation. It is based on years of experience and research by Kabat-Zinn and his colleagues and has been used in various clinical settings to help people cope with stress, pain, and illness. The book is also supported by a large body of scientific research on mindfulness and its benefits for mental and physical health.

LIMITATIONS: One limitation of the book is that it may not be suitable for people who have difficulty practicing mindfulness or meditation due to physical or mental health conditions. The book also relies heavily on anecdotal evidence and personal stories, which may not be convincing for some readers who are looking for more empirical evidence.

SUMMARY: "Full Catastrophe Living" is a self-help book based on the principles of mindfulness and meditation. It provides practical guidance and exercises for readers to incorporate these practices into their daily lives to help cope with stress, pain, and illness.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - While the book is based on the principles of mindfulness and meditation, which have been supported by a large body of scientific research, the book itself relies heavily on anecdotal evidence and personal stories. The book may be a useful resource for people looking to learn and practice mindfulness and meditation, but readers should keep in mind that the evidence presented in the book may not be as robust as they would expect from a more scientific text.



Kotler, S., and Wheal, J., 2017. Stealing fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work. Dey Street Books.


OVERVIEW: "Stealing Fire" is a popular science book written by Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal that explores the concept of "ecstasis," or altered states of consciousness, and how they can enhance human performance and well-being. The book draws on a variety of sources, including neuroscience, psychology, and anthropology, as well as interviews with Navy SEALs, extreme athletes, and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.

STRENGTHS: The book presents a compelling argument for the benefits of altered states of consciousness, such as increased creativity, productivity, and emotional well-being. The authors draw on a wide range of sources and perspectives, including scientific research, historical and cultural examples, and personal anecdotes from people in various fields. The book is well-written and engaging, with vivid descriptions of the experiences of people in flow states and other altered states of consciousness.

LIMITATIONS: Some of the claims made in the book are not supported by rigorous scientific evidence and rely heavily on anecdotal evidence and personal testimony. The authors may overstate the importance of altered states of consciousness and downplay the potential risks and downsides. The book may not be accessible to readers without a background in science or psychology.

SUMMARY: "Stealing Fire" is a thought-provoking book that explores the potential benefits of altered states of consciousness for human performance and well-being. The book draws on a range of sources and perspectives and presents a compelling argument for the value of these states. However, some of the claims made in the book are not well-supported by scientific evidence, and the authors may overstate the importance of altered states while downplaying potential risks and downsides.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - the book draws on a range of scientific research and perspectives, yet some of the claims made in the book are not well-supported by rigorous scientific evidence. Additionally, the authors may overstate the importance of altered states of consciousness and downplay potential risks and downsides, which could be misleading to readers. However, the book does present a thought-provoking and engaging perspective on the potential benefits of altered states of consciousness and may inspire further research in this area.



Keeler, J.R., Roth, E.A., Neuser, B.L., Spitsbergen, J.M., Waters, D.J.M. and Vianney, J.M., 2015. The neurochemistry and social flow of singing: bonding and oxytocin. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, p.518.


OVERVIEW: This study investigated the relationship between singing, social bonding, and oxytocin levels in a group of choir members. The authors aimed to determine if singing can lead to the release of oxytocin, a hormone associated with social bonding, and if this release is related to the experience of flow during singing. The study utilised a combination of self-report measures, physiological measures, and behavioural observations to explore these relationships.

STRENGTHS: The study utilised a combination of self-report measures, physiological measures, and behavioural observations to explore the relationships between singing, social bonding, oxytocin, and flow experience, providing a comprehensive understanding of these variables. The use of physiological measures (i.e., oxytocin assays) allowed for a more objective assessment of the relationship between singing and oxytocin release. The findings contribute to our understanding of the neurochemical mechanisms underlying social bonding and the experience of flow.

LIMITATIONS: The study had a relatively small sample size (N=15), which may limit the generalisability of the findings. The study only included choir members, which may limit the generalisability of the findings to other types of singing contexts (e.g., solo singing). The study did not include a control group, which makes it difficult to determine if the observed effects are specific to singing or could be attributed to other factors.

SUMMARY: Overall, the study provides preliminary evidence for the relationship between singing, social bonding, oxytocin release, and flow experience. While the study had some limitations, it contributes to our understanding of the neurochemical mechanisms underlying social bonding and the experience of flow.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - due to its small sample size and lack of a control group. However, the use of physiological measures and the comprehensive assessment of variables increases its scientific power. Further studies with larger sample sizes and control groups are needed to confirm and extend the findings of this study.



Martin, J.J. and Cutler, K., 2002. An exploratory study of flow and motivation in theatre actors. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 14(4), pp.344-352.


OVERVIEW: The article explores the concept of flow and its relationship with motivation in theatre actors. The study used a qualitative research design, with semi-structured interviews as the data collection method. The researchers aimed to understand the experiences of actors while performing on stage and how these experiences relate to their motivation.

STRENGTHS: One strength of the study is that it explored the concept of flow in a unique context, namely theatre actors. By examining the experiences of actors, the study adds to the understanding of flow in creative contexts. The use of qualitative research methods, specifically semi-structured interviews, allowed for a detailed exploration of the experiences of the participants. This provided rich and in-depth data that could be analysed for themes and patterns.

LIMITATIONS: One limitation of the study is the small sample size, which consisted of only eight participants. This limits the generalisability of the findings to other populations. Additionally, the study relied solely on self-report data, which may be subject to biases and inaccuracies. Furthermore, the study did not utilise any objective measures of flow or motivation.

SUMMARY: Overall, the study provided insight into the experiences of flow and motivation in theatre actors. The findings suggest that flow experiences are closely related to motivation and that flow can lead to enhanced performance and satisfaction. However, due to the limitations of the study, the findings should be interpreted with caution.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - While the study provides valuable insights into the experiences of flow and motivation in theatre actors, the small sample size and reliance on self-report data limit the generalisability and validity of the findings. Further research with larger sample sizes and the use of objective measures is needed to confirm and expand upon these findings.



Mauri, M., Cipresso, P., Balgera, A., Villamira, M. and Riva, G., 2011. Why is Facebook so successful? Psychophysiological measures describe a core flow state while using Facebook. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 14(12), pp.723-731.


OVERVIEW: This study investigates the psychological and physiological aspects of using Facebook and attempts to understand why it is so successful. The study uses self-reported questionnaires and psychophysiological measures to assess the experience of "flow" while using Facebook, a state of optimal experience characterised by intense focus and enjoyment.

STRENGTHS: The study uses both self-report and physiological measures to assess the experience of flow while using Facebook, which provides a more comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon. The use of psychophysiological measures, such as heart rate variability and skin conductance, is a strength, as it allows for the objective assessment of physiological responses to using Facebook.

LIMITATIONS: The study has a small sample size of only 30 participants, which limits the generalisability of the findings. The study also does not assess the potential negative effects of using Facebook, such as addiction and social isolation. Additionally, the study relies heavily on self-reported measures, which are subject to bias and may not accurately reflect the actual experience of using Facebook.

SUMMARY: The study suggests that using Facebook can induce a state of flow, characterised by high levels of enjoyment and engagement. The use of physiological measures adds strength to the study, but the small sample size and reliance on self-reported measures are limitations.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE – It provides some insight into the psychological and physiological aspects of using Facebook and its potential to induce a state of flow. However, the limitations, such as the small sample size and reliance on self-reported measures, suggest that further research is needed to confirm the findings and to explore the potential negative effects of using Facebook.



Moneta, G.B., 2012. On the measurement and conceptualization of flow. Advances in flow research, pp.23-50.


OVERVIEW: The paper is a theoretical review article that examines the measurement and conceptualisation of flow in the psychology literature. The paper provides an overview of the construct of flow, its conceptualisation, and measurement, and reviews the different scales and methodologies used to measure flow across various domains.

STRENGTHS: The paper provides a comprehensive overview of the measurement and conceptualisation of flow, making it a useful resource for researchers and practitioners interested in studying flow. The review of different measurement scales and methodologies used to assess flow across various domains helps to highlight the nuances and complexities involved in measuring flow.

LIMITATIONS: As a theoretical review paper, the study does not present any empirical data or findings, limiting its scientific power to some extent. Additionally, the focus on measurement and conceptualisation means that the paper does not delve deeply into the underlying mechanisms and neurobiology of flow, which may be of interest to some researchers.

SUMMARY: Overall, Moneta's paper provides a comprehensive overview of the measurement and conceptualisation of flow, highlighting the complexities and nuances involved in studying the construct. While it does not present any new empirical data or findings, it serves as a valuable resource for researchers and practitioners interested in studying flow.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: LOW to MODERATE - Limited by its theoretical nature and lack of empirical data. However, as a review article, it serves as a valuable resource for researchers and practitioners interested in studying flow, providing a comprehensive overview of the construct's measurement and conceptualisation across various domains.



Nakamura, J., and Csikszentmihalyi, M., 2009. Flow theory and research. In Handbook of positive psychology, pp. 89-105. Oxford University Press.


OVERVIEW: The paper provides an overview of the theoretical and empirical underpinnings of flow theory. The authors discuss the history of flow theory, its key concepts, the antecedents and consequences of flow, and various research methods used to study flow.

STRENGTHS: The paper provides a comprehensive and detailed overview of flow theory, drawing on a wide range of empirical studies to support its claims. The authors clearly articulate the key concepts of flow theory, including the nine dimensions of flow, and explain how these concepts are related to one another. They also provide a useful summary of the research methods used to study flow, including self-report measures, experience sampling, and psychophysiological measures.

LIMITATIONS: One potential limitation of the paper is that it relies heavily on self-report measures of flow, which may be subject to biases and social desirability effects. Additionally, the paper focuses primarily on the positive aspects of flow and does not address potential negative consequences of flow, such as addiction or burnout.

SUMMARY: Overall, "Flow theory and research" provides a comprehensive and insightful overview of flow theory and its empirical foundations. The paper offers a useful resource for researchers and practitioners interested in understanding the concept of flow and its potential applications in various domains.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: STRONG - The paper draws on a wide range of empirical studies and provides a comprehensive and nuanced overview of flow theory. The authors offer a clear and cogent argument for the importance of flow in human experience and provide a useful framework for understanding the antecedents and consequences of flow. However, the reliance on self-report measures and the lack of discussion of potential negative consequences of flow may limit the generalisability of the findings.



Nielsen, K. and Cleal, B., 2010. Predicting flow at work: Investigating the activities and job characteristics that predict flow states at work. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 15(2), p.180.


OVERVIEW: The paper aims to investigate the activities and job characteristics that predict flow states at work. Specifically, the authors examine how job resources, demands, and person-related factors impact the experience of flow at work. The study uses a cross-sectional design, with data collected from a sample of 278 employees across a variety of industries and job types.

STRENGTHS: The study uses a well-established and widely accepted concept of flow, which has been extensively researched in the field of positive psychology. The authors use a large sample of participants from different industries and job types, which increases the generalisability of the findings. The study uses multiple regression analysis to examine the relative contributions of job resources, demands, and person-related factors to the experience of flow, which allows for a more nuanced understanding of the factors that contribute to flow at work.

LIMITATIONS: The study is cross-sectional, meaning that causality cannot be established. It is unclear whether the job resources, demands, and person-related factors predict flow or vice versa. The study relies on self-report measures, which are subject to response bias and social desirability bias. The study does not take into account the potential impact of personality traits or individual differences on the experience of flow at work.

SUMMARY: Overall, the study provides valuable insights into the factors that predict flow at work, highlighting the importance of job resources, demands, and person-related factors. However, the study's cross-sectional design and reliance on self-report measures limit the ability to draw causal conclusions.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - While the study provides valuable insights into the predictors of flow at work, the limitations in the study design and methodology limit its scientific power. Future studies using longitudinal designs and multiple measures of flow and its predictors could further increase the scientific power of the research in this area.



Pates, J., Cummings, A. and Maynard, I., 2002. The effects of hypnosis on flow states and three-point shooting performance in basketball players. The Sport Psychologist, 16(1), pp.34-47.


OVERVIEW: The study examined the effects of hypnosis on flow states and three-point shooting performance in basketball players.

STRENGTHS: The study used a randomised controlled trial design, which is a rigorous scientific approach. The study employed a well-established and reliable measure of flow (Flow State Scale-2) to assess the flow state of the participants. The study utilised a standardised procedure for hypnosis to ensure consistency in the intervention. The study used objective measures of basketball shooting performance (i.e., number of successful shots made) rather than relying on subjective ratings.

LIMITATIONS: The sample size was relatively small, with only 12 participants in each group, which may limit the generalisability of the findings. The study did not control for the effects of placebo, which may have influenced the results. The study did not examine the long-term effects of hypnosis on flow states and performance.

SUMMARY: The study provides preliminary evidence that hypnosis may enhance flow states and three-point shooting performance in basketball players. However, due to the limitations of the study, the findings should be interpreted with caution.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - While the study employed a randomised controlled trial design and utilised a reliable measure of flow, the small sample size and lack of control for placebo effects limit the strength of the findings. Further research with larger samples and control for placebo effects is needed to strengthen the scientific power of the study.



Pates, J., Karageorghis, C.I., Fryer, R. and Maynard, I., 2003. Effects of asynchronous music on flow states and shooting performance among netball players. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 4(4), pp.415-427.


OVERVIEW: The study investigates the effects of asynchronous music on flow states and shooting performance among netball players. The study hypothesises that music can enhance flow states and improve performance. The study was conducted using a randomised controlled design with two experimental groups and one control group. The Flow State Scale-2 (FSS-2) was used to measure flow states, while shooting accuracy was used to assess performance.

STRENGTHS: The study uses a randomised controlled design, which is a strong research design to establish causality. The study uses established instruments to measure flow states and performance. The study investigates a unique aspect of flow by examining the effects of asynchronous music on flow states and performance.

LIMITATIONS: The sample size is relatively small, which may limit the generalisability of the results. The study only examines one sport, which limits the generalisability of the findings to other sports. The study only examines the effects of asynchronous music, which does not allow for an investigation of the effects of synchronous music or no music on flow states and performance.

SUMMARY: Overall, the study provides some evidence to suggest that asynchronous music can enhance flow states and improve performance among netball players. However, the results should be interpreted with caution due to the small sample size and the limited generalisability of the findings to other sports.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - While the study uses a randomised controlled design and established instruments to measure flow states and performance, the small sample size and limited generalisability of the findings are potential limitations. Further research with larger sample sizes and the investigation of other sports and types of music is needed to strengthen the scientific power of the study.



Payne, B.R., Jackson, J.J., Noh, S.R. and Stine-Morrow, E.A., 2011. In the zone: flow state and cognition in older adults. Psychology and Aging, 26(3), p.738.


OVERVIEW: The article investigates the relationship between flow state and cognitive performance in older adults. The authors explore whether the experience of flow state (i.e., a state of deep focus and immersion in an activity) is associated with better cognitive functioning among older adults.

STRENGTHS: The study explores an important topic that has implications for promoting healthy aging and preserving cognitive function in older adults. The authors use a well-established measure of flow state (the Flow State Scale-2) and assess cognitive performance using a battery of standard neuropsychological tests. The study controls for demographic factors, health status, and personality traits that could influence both flow state and cognitive performance. The results suggest a positive association between flow state and cognitive performance, even after controlling for relevant factors.

LIMITATIONS: The study has a cross-sectional design, which limits the ability to draw causal inferences. It is unclear whether flow state leads to better cognitive performance or whether better cognitive performance facilitates the experience of flow state. The study relies on self-reported flow state and may be subject to response biases. The study does not assess the duration or frequency of flow state experiences, which could be relevant for understanding their relationship with cognitive functioning. The study only includes older adults, and it is unclear whether the findings generalise to younger age groups.

SUMMARY: The study investigates the relationship between flow state and cognitive performance in older adults. The results suggest a positive association between flow state and cognitive performance, even after controlling for relevant factors. However, the study's cross-sectional design and reliance on self-reported measures limit the ability to draw causal inferences.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - While the study controls for relevant factors and uses established measures of flow state and cognitive performance, its cross-sectional design and reliance on self-reported measures limit the strength of its findings. Further research is needed to establish the causal relationship between flow state and cognitive performance and to replicate the findings in diverse populations.



Procci, K., Singer, A.R., Levy, K.R. and Bowers, C., 2012. Measuring the flow experience of gamers: An evaluation of the DFS-2. Computers in Human Behavior, 28(6), pp.2306-2312.


OVERVIEW: The paper aims to examine the scientific power of the DFS-2, a measure of flow experience among gamers. The researchers evaluated the psychometric properties of the DFS-2 and its ability to measure flow experience.

STRENGTHS: The study is well-designed and conducted, with a sample of 359 participants who were asked to complete the DFS-2 and other questionnaires. The researchers used multiple measures of validation, such as the Positive and Negative Affect Scale and the Game Experience Questionnaire. The statistical analyses used were appropriate, and the results provide evidence for the reliability and validity of the DFS-2.

LIMITATIONS: One limitation of the study is that the sample was limited to gamers, which limits the generalisability of the results to other populations. Another limitation is that the study was cross-sectional, which limits the ability to draw conclusions about causality. Additionally, the study did not evaluate the DFS-2 in terms of its sensitivity to change over time, which limits its usefulness in longitudinal studies.

SUMMARY: The study provides evidence for the reliability and validity of the DFS-2 as a measure of flow experience among gamers. However, the limitations of the study suggest that further research is needed to evaluate the DFS-2 in other populations and in longitudinal studies.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE to STRONG - Well-designed methodology and appropriate statistical analyses. However, the limited sample and cross-sectional design lower the generalisability of the results and the ability to draw causal conclusions.



Russell, W.D., 2001. An examination of flow state occurrence in college athletes. Journal of Sport Behavior, 24(1).


OVERVIEW: Russell (2001) examined the occurrence of flow state in college athletes. Flow state refers to a mental state where an individual is fully immersed in an activity and feels a sense of energized focus and enjoyment. The study aimed to investigate the occurrence of flow state in college athletes during their practice and competition.

STRENGTHS: The study used a qualitative approach, allowing for a detailed exploration of the athletes' experiences of flow state. The study used a large sample size of 211 college athletes from various sports. The study employed a well-established instrument, the Flow State Scale-2, to measure the occurrence of flow state.

LIMITATIONS: The study relied on self-report measures, which are subject to bias and may not accurately reflect the athletes' experiences of flow state. The study did not control for individual differences, such as personality traits, that may influence the occurrence of flow state. The study did not investigate the effects of flow state on athletes' performance or well-being.

SUMMARY: The study provides valuable insights into the occurrence of flow state in college athletes, highlighting the importance of this mental state in enhancing athletes' engagement in their sport. However, the study's reliance on self-report measures and lack of investigation into individual differences and outcomes limits the generalisability of the findings.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - While the study employed a large sample size and a well-established instrument to measure flow state, its reliance on self-report measures and lack of control for individual differences and outcomes limit its scientific power.



Sinnamon, S., Moran, A. and O’Connell, M., 2012. Flow among musicians: Measuring peak experiences of student performers. Journal of Research in Music Education, 60(1), pp.6-25.


OVERVIEW: The study investigated the occurrence of flow states among student musicians while performing. The authors used Csikszentmihalyi's (1990) flow theory as a framework to examine the experience of peak experiences and identified the factors that contribute to the occurrence of flow states in musical performance.

STRENGTHS: The study used a well-established theoretical framework of flow to examine the experience of peak experiences in musical performance. The authors employed a mixed-methods approach, including a survey and interviews, to collect data from a sample of student musicians. The use of multiple methods enhances the validity of the study's findings. The study's results provide valuable insights into the factors that contribute to the occurrence of flow states in musical performance.

LIMITATIONS: The study's sample size was relatively small, consisting of 10 participants, which may limit the generalisability of the findings. Additionally, the study only focused on student musicians and may not be applicable to professional musicians or other performers. The self-reported nature of the data collected through the survey and interviews may also introduce bias into the study's findings.

SUMMARY: The study investigated the occurrence of flow states among student musicians while performing. The study used a mixed-methods approach and identified the factors that contribute to the occurrence of flow states in musical performance. The study's findings provide valuable insights into the experience of peak experiences in musical performance.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - The use of a well-established theoretical framework and a mixed-methods approach enhances the validity of the study's findings. However, the small sample size and the focus on student musicians limit the generalisability of the study's results. The self-reported nature of the data may also introduce bias into the study's findings.



Swann, C., Keegan, R.J., Piggott, D. and Crust, L., 2012. A systematic review of the experience, occurrence, and controllability of flow states in elite sport. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 13(6), pp.807-819.


OVERVIEW: The article systematically reviews the literature on flow states in elite sport, focusing on the experience, occurrence, and controllability of flow states. The article aims to provide insight into how athletes can experience flow more frequently and to help coaches and practitioners enhance athletes' flow experiences.

STRENGTHS: The article provides a comprehensive review of the literature on flow states in elite sport, with a focus on the experience, occurrence, and controllability of flow. The authors use a systematic approach to review the literature and provide a clear and concise summary of the findings. The article includes a discussion of the practical implications of the research and recommendations for enhancing flow experiences in elite sport.

LIMITATIONS: While the article provides a comprehensive review of the literature, it does not provide a meta-analysis of the studies, which could provide a more quantitative analysis of the findings. Additionally, the article focuses primarily on elite athletes and does not explore flow states in other populations.

SUMMARY: The article provides a comprehensive review of the literature on flow states in elite sport, with a focus on the experience, occurrence, and controllability of flow. The article highlights the importance of flow states for athletes' performance and well-being and provides practical recommendations for enhancing flow experiences in elite sport.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: STRONG -The article uses a systematic approach to review the literature and provides a comprehensive summary of the findings. While the article could benefit from a meta-analysis of the studies, the authors provide clear and concise recommendations for enhancing flow experiences in elite sport based on the existing literature.



Tse, D.C., Fung, H.H., Nakamura, J. and Csikszentmihalyi, M., 2018. Teamwork and flow proneness mitigate the negative effect of excess challenge on flow state. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 13(3), pp.284-289.


OVERVIEW: The paper examines the effect of teamwork and flow proneness on mitigating the negative effect of excess challenge on flow state. The study involves 92 undergraduate students who were asked to complete a task with varying levels of difficulty, while their experience of flow state was measured using the Flow State Scale. The authors hypothesised that teamwork and flow proneness would reduce the negative impact of excess challenge on flow state.

STRENGTHS: The study employs a well-established measure of flow state, the Flow State Scale, to assess the participants' experience of flow during the task. The authors use a rigorous experimental design to manipulate the level of challenge and measure the impact of teamwork and flow proneness on flow state. The sample size of 92 participants is relatively large, increasing the study's statistical power and generalisability.

LIMITATIONS: The study uses an undergraduate student sample, which may limit the generalisability of the findings to other populations. The study only examines the effects of teamwork and flow proneness on flow state during a single task, and the results may not apply to other activities or contexts. The study only measures flow state at one point in time, and it is unclear how stable flow proneness is over time or across different activities.

SUMMARY: Overall, Tse et al.'s (2018) study provides evidence that teamwork and flow proneness can mitigate the negative effects of excess challenge on flow state. However, the findings should be interpreted with caution given the limitations of the study.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE to STRONG - The study employs a rigorous experimental design and a well-established measure of flow state, providing strong evidence for the relationship between teamwork, flow proneness, and flow state. However, the generalisability of the findings is limited by the use of an undergraduate student sample and the study's focus on a single task



Wrigley, W.J. and Emmerson, S.B., 2013. The experience of the flow state in live music performance. Psychology of Music, 41(3), pp.292-305.


OVERVIEW: The study explores the experience of the flow state in live music performance. The authors investigated how musicians experience flow during live performances and how it affects their subsequent performances. They also explored the relationship between flow and other psychological constructs such as anxiety and self-efficacy.

STRENGTHS: The study used a mixed-methods approach, including both qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis. The authors used a validated questionnaire, the Flow State Scale, to measure flow experiences. The sample size was relatively large for a qualitative study, including 21 participants from various music genres and backgrounds. The study's focus on live music performance is an innovative approach to investigating the flow state.

LIMITATIONS: The study used self-report measures, which may be subject to biases and inaccuracies. The sample size was relatively small for a quantitative study, limiting the generalisability of the findings. The study did not control for other factors that could influence flow experiences, such as skill level and audience response. The study only focused on musicians, limiting its generalisability to other performance contexts.

SUMMARY: The study provides valuable insights into the experience of the flow state in live music performance. The findings suggest that musicians' flow experiences are influenced by various factors, including skill level, audience response, and the quality of the performance. The study also highlights the importance of managing anxiety and maintaining self-efficacy to achieve optimal flow experiences.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - While the mixed-methods approach and use of a validated questionnaire are strengths, the small sample size and lack of control for other factors limit the study's generalisability and validity. Nonetheless, the study provides useful insights into the flow state in live music performance, and its findings can inform further research in this area.


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