Browse Definitions :
Definition

flow (psychology)

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

Flow, in the context of psychology, is a state of intense engagement, focus and contentment in the present moment and current activity. Sometimes referred to as being “in the zone,” flow states are known to enhance creativity and performance and spark innovation. The experiences are considered profound enough to improve the individual’s overall satisfaction in life.

Although flow experiences have been observed for thousands of years, Mihály Csíkszentmihályi coined the term in 1975. The psychologist was interviewing artists about their tendency to become so absorbed in their work that they lost awareness of anything else, including basic needs for food, water and sleep. The term flow arose from the way many of the artists described the experience as like being carried along on a current of water.

In his 2004 TED talk, Csíkszentmihályi explained the phenomenon as a function of cognitive processing limits: the intense concentration on the activity at hand prevents the capacity for other processing, such as rumination or awareness of hunger. The first and most integral element of a flow experience is intense absorption that precludes multitasking, daydreaming or attention to other matters. The individual is working at the limits of his capabilities, envisioning steps forward almost simultaneously with taking action. The activity is intrinsically enjoyable and there is a sense of effortlessness. Satisfaction in the actions and immediate internal feedback about their success are also pleasurable. Temporal sensing is altered so that, typically, much more time elapses during a flow experience than the individual would have estimated.

Flow experiences have been studied and applied to inform many areas of endeavor including personal growth, workplace psychology, metacognitive therapy, music, sports, education, mindfulness training, game design and gaming. Although the ability to experience flow varies from one individual to another, the phenomenon can be encouraged through approaches such as attention training, meditation, maintaining a sense of curiosity, dedicating oneself to lifelong learning and exploring what particular types of activities flow for you.

This was last updated in December 2018

Continue Reading About flow (psychology)

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchCompliance

  • compliance audit

    A compliance audit is a comprehensive review of an organization's adherence to regulatory guidelines.

  • regulatory compliance

    Regulatory compliance is an organization's adherence to laws, regulations, guidelines and specifications relevant to its business...

  • Whistleblower Protection Act

    The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 is a law that protects federal government employees in the United States from ...

SearchSecurity

  • payload (computing)

    In computing, a payload is the carrying capacity of a packet or other transmission data unit. The term has its roots in the ...

  • passphrase

    A passphrase is a string of characters longer than the usual password (which is typically from four to 16 characters long) that ...

  • Web application firewall (WAF)

    A Web application firewall (WAF) is a firewall that monitors, filters or blocks traffic to and from a Web application. WAFs are ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

SearchStorage

  • computational storage

    Computational storage is defined as an architecture that couples compute with storage in order to reduce data movement. In doing ...

  • data deduplication

    Data deduplication -- often called intelligent compression or single-instance storage -- is a process that eliminates redundant ...

  • public cloud storage

    Public cloud storage, also called storage-as-a-service or online storage is a service model that provides data storage on a ...

Close