Some Flow Research Studies

Flow research flourished as it considered more complex objectives such as the associations of flow with other psychological constructs and was developed in many directions, including fields such as sports (the most prominent field) and education.

Research in sport psychology has considered the relationship of flow with athletic competitive advantage, and the relevance of flow for peak performances and the final results. It has also been shown that flow influenced movement patterns by improving coordination. Recent research also considered both positive and negative consequences of flow in athletes, such as big wave surfers. Flow was associated with positive aspects such as improved mood states, performance, self-esteem, and fulfilment, but also with negative aspects, such as the symptoms of dependence on the surfing activity. Moreover, the correlation of flow with the cognitive domain and with psychological constructs has been considered, as well as the relationships between flow and dimensions of self-concept and athletes' use of psychological skills. How to generate and maintain flow, focusing on psychological processes has included the importance of confidence, precompetitive strategies, motivation, and self-concept. Some models were developed showing that needs satisfaction and athlete engagement predict dispositional flow.

The applications of flow in sports have been addressed at both an individual and a team level. At an individual level, in sports including golf and tennis, aspects such as mental coaching and how to control concentration and attention have been considered. Possible applications at a team level include creating synchronicity between players, developing awareness of the environment, and creating the conditions to build a stronger group which is better focused on a definite goal.

The importance of flow in education has been highlighted in many studies. It has been noted that the degree of enjoyment during the classes was a good predictor for final grades of high school students. Flow also predicted semester end performance of university students, and flow was considered a mediating variable for the effect of motivation on performance. The enjoyment of teachers in teaching depends on the attention of the students, and teachers' intrinsic work motivation was linked to the flow experienced by students. The more flow states professors encountered, the higher the occurrence of similar experiences among their students (Arnold Bakker 2005: 38). Research indicated a positive correlation between flow and perception of autonomy, competence and relatedness. Another study concluded that teacher autonomy, performance feedback, social support, and supervisory coaching had a positive influence on the balance between challenges and skills which is a basic element for inducing flow. In a research study with secondary school teachers, it was demonstrated that personal resources (e.g., self-efficacy beliefs) and organizational resources (e.g., social support climate and clear goals) facilitated work-related flow (work absorption, work enjoyment, and intrinsic work motivation); and that work-related flow had a positive influence on personal and organizational resources. Also the didactic approach has an influence on flow and a method which directly involves the students induces more flow than passive activities such as listening to a lecture.

The concept of flow has also been considered in the field of cognitive science and neuroscience, in an attempt to give a more complete and global vision than pure description in psychological terms. Flow experience has been discussed when trying to identify possible neurocognitive mechanisms. The mechanisms of flow were compared to other expressions of exceptional human experience. Arne Dietrich in 2004 stated transient hypofrontality is a necessary prerequisite to experience flow. More research is needed in this field.

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