Which people are most likely to experience “flow”?


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First, a definition:

Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity. Proposed by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, the positive psychology concept has been widely referenced across a variety of fields.

According to Csíkszentmihályi, flow is completely focused motivation. It is a single-minded immersion and represents perhaps the ultimate in harnessing the emotions in the service of performing and learning. In flow the emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energized, and aligned with the task at hand. To be caught in the ennui of depression or the agitation of anxiety is to be barred from flow. The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task.

The term was popularized in Csíkszentmihályi’s excellent book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.

What personality traits help you achieve it?

Previous studies defined flow as the holistic sensation that people feel when they act with total concentration and intrinsic enjoyment. However, we know little about who are more likely to experience flow than others. This study thus investigates how temperament and character impact individual likelihood of experiencing flow. This study utilized a cross-sectional design and 372 subjects, and found that the likelihood of experiencing flow is positively related to novelty seeking, persistence, and self-transcendence, but negatively related to self-directedness. Results of this study support that temperament and character dimensions can be used to explain individual likelihood of experiencing flow.

Source: “Who are likely to experience flow? Impact of temperament and character on flow” from Personality and Individual Differences

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