A Cross-Sectional Survey Study About the Most Common Solitary and Social Flow Activities to Extend the Concept of Optimal Experience

Eur J Psychol. 2015 Nov 27;11(4):632-50. doi: 10.5964/ejop.v11i4.866. eCollection 2015 Nov.


Previous assumptions note that the most powerful experiences of engagement are shared with others. Therefore, in the framework of positive psychology, to expand the dynamic interactionism-related flow theory, we have attempted to conduct an exploratory study about flow to reveal the most common activities that can trigger this experience during solitary or social situations. The study involved 1,709 adult participants from Hungary (Age: M = 26.95, SD = 11.23). They read descriptions about optimal experience in solitary and social situations and were asked to identify the activity from their life that is most typically followed by the described experiences. The social context was supplemented by other flow-related questions for a deeper understanding and to contribute to the research. According to the results the most typical solitary flow activities are found to be work, sports, creative activities and reading. The most common flow-inducing social activities are work and sports. The choice of the most frequent flow-inducing activities in both solitary and interpersonal situations is dependent on the gender of the respondent, and various demographical factors can influence the frequency of flow experiences in different contexts. Analysis reveal that optimal experience during a social interaction is determined by the perceived level of challenges, the perceived level of cooperation, the immediateness and clarity of the feedback, and the level of the skill. Our study may contribute to the broadening purpose of positive psychology as it focuses on the interpersonal level in relation to flow experience, which, in turn, may also support a higher level of well-being.

Keywords: activity; demographic; flow; induction; interactionism; social; solitary.