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

  • brute force attack

    Brute force (also known as brute force cracking) is a trial and error method used by application programs to decode encrypted ...

  • spyware

    Spyware is software that is installed on a computing device without the user's knowledge. Spyware can be difficult to detect; ...

  • ATM black box attack

    An ATM black box attack, also referred to as jackpotting, is a type of banking-system crime in which the perpetrators bore holes ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR)

    Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) are closely related practices that describe an organization's preparation for ...

  • warm site

    A warm site is a type of facility an organization uses to recover its technology infrastructure when its primary data center goes...

  • disaster recovery (DR) test

    A disaster recovery test (DR test) is the examination of each step in a disaster recovery plan as outlined in an organization's ...

SearchStorage

  • disk array

    A disk array, also called a storage array, is a data storage system used for block-based storage, file-based storage or object ...

  • enterprise storage

    Enterprise storage is a centralized repository for business information that provides common data management, protection and data...

  • optical storage

    Optical storage is any storage type in which data is written and read with a laser. Typically, data is written to optical media, ...

Close