Flow theory postulates that the psychological state of flow emerging when one engages in activities where skill level and challenge are both high results in ‘optimal’ subjective experiences relative to other psychological states and is intrinsically motivated. The experience sampling method was used on a sample of college students to compare daily activities associated with flow (high skill high challenge) to the psychological state of control (high skill moderate challenge) in relation to the subjective experiences of enjoyment happiness intrinsic motivation and cognitive involvement. Contrary to flow theory enjoyment happiness and intrinsic motivation were characteristic of activities associated with being in ‘control’ as opposed to flow. Flow activities were associated with being cognitively involved in the task at hand. We believe such theoretically important findings have been masked when using the original four-channel model of flow but are clarified with use of the revised experience fluctuation model.
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