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

SearchCompliance

  • risk management

    Risk management is the process of identifying, assessing and controlling threats to an organization's capital and earnings.

  • compliance as a service (CaaS)

    Compliance as a Service (CaaS) is a cloud service service level agreement (SLA) that specified how a managed service provider (...

  • data protection impact assessment (DPIA)

    A data protection impact assessment (DPIA) is a process designed to help organizations determine how data processing systems, ...

SearchSecurity

  • cybersecurity insurance (cybersecurity liability insurance)

    Cybersecurity insurance, also called cyber liability insurance or cyber insurance, is a contract that an entity can purchase to ...

  • phishing

    Phishing is a form of fraud in which an attacker masquerades as a reputable entity or person in email or other communication ...

  • cybercrime

    Cybercrime is any criminal activity that involves a computer, networked device or a network.

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

  • disaster recovery team

    A disaster recovery team is a group of individuals focused on planning, implementing, maintaining, auditing and testing an ...

  • cloud insurance

    Cloud insurance is any type of financial or data protection obtained by a cloud service provider. 

SearchStorage

  • NVMe over Fabrics (NVMe-oF)

    NVMe over Fabrics, also known as NVMe-oF and non-volatile memory express over fabrics, is a protocol specification designed to ...

  • logical unit number (LUN)

    A logical unit number (LUN) is a unique identifier for designating an individual or collection of physical or virtual storage ...

  • CIFS (Common Internet File System)

    CIFS (Common Internet File System) is a protocol that gained popularity around the year 2000, as vendors worked to establish an ...

Close