Flow is an intrinsically rewarding state of deep absorption that may be experienced when a challenging activity fully engages an individual’s skills. When athletes speak of being in the zone while playing, they are referring to being in flow. Flow appears to be experienced at all ages, although the contexts in which it is most frequently experienced change in predictable ways with age. Flow is a form of optimal experience that contributes to psychological well-being. Moreover, flow is of interest to life-span developmental psychologists as a catalyst of learning, achievement, and development. This entry describes characteristics of flow at different points in the life span.

In 1975, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi introduced the concept of flow based on interview research investigating intrinsically motivated activities such as chess ...

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