The Force Is Your Ally - Southeastern Louisiana University

The Force Is Your Ally
 Positive Psychology
 Interested in what constitutes and promotes human
 Csikszentmihalyi studied artists’/experts’ reports of
experiences of intense involvement in and enjoyment
of their chosen activity/profession
Created the concept of “flow”
“… a good life is one that is characterized by complete
absorption in what one does” (p. 89)
What’s Needed To Enter The State Of Flow?
 A challenging task that pushes, but does not exceed
the individual’s abilities
Delicate balance
Not challenging= boredom
 Too challenging= anxiety
 A clear goal with frequent feedback
 Focused concentration on and attention to the task
at hand
“…attention becomes completely absorbed into the stimulus
field defined by the activity” (p. 92)
What Characterizes The State Of Flow?
 An intense and focused concentration on what one is
doing in the present moment
 A merging of action and awareness
 A loss of reflective self-consciousness
 A strong sense of competence and control
“In the zone”
 An altered experiencing of the passage of time
 It’s just fun
 “The motivation to persist in or return to the activity arises out
of the experience itself” (p. 92)
The Self
 Comprised of our sense of awareness, and our
awareness of ourselves
 Both play a vital role in achieving and maintaining
the state of flow
“In our terms, these two aspect of the self reflect (a) the sum of
one’s conscious processes and (b) the information about
oneself that enters awareness when one becomes the object of
one’s own attention” (p. 91)
 The state of flow is difficult to achieve and maintain,
and easily disrupted
A Fun Example
“That Is Why You Fail”
 Luke lost his connection to the Force (state of flow)
because he lost his focus, and doubted his abilities
(lack of concentration & negative self-assessment)
 Basically, he got in his own way
The Autotelic Individual
 While everyone has the capacity to enter the state of
flow, for some it is easier than others
 The autotelic individual
Is generally curious and interested in life
Is persistent
Is low in self-centeredness
Able to find tasks enjoyable and rewarding on their own
Challenging and supportive environments seem foster the
development of these characteristics
The Autotelic Individual Cont’d
 Neuroticism has been found to be negatively related to proneness to
achieving the state of flow (Ullen, de Manzano, Almeida, Magnusson,
Pedersen, Nakamura, Csikszentmihalyi & Madison, 2012)
 Conscientiousness has been found to be positively related to proneness
to achieving the state of flow (Ullen et al., 2012)
 “a salient feature of neuroticism is emotional and cognitive state
instability… Such fluctuations… could conceivably affect both
cognitive and emotional aspects of flow, causing an increased risk for
attentional lapses and a reduced sense of control and skill” (Ullen et
al., 2012, p. 170)
 “Highly conscientious individuals are presumably more likely to
spend enough time on deliberate practice to master more challening
tasks” (Ullen, et al., 2012, p. 171)
 No relationship was found between proneness to achieving flow states
and overall intelligence (Ullen, et al., 2012)
How The Flow State Is Researched
 Interviews
 Questionnaires
 Experience Sampling Method
 Physiological measures
 Creative thinking may be facilitated by reduced D2 receptors in the
thalamus (de Manzano, Cervenka, Karabanov, Farde & Ullen, 2010)
 The ultimate goal of research in this area is to promote human wellbeing
 Research has been conducted in workplaces, educational settings,
and many others
Some Evolutionary Hypotheses
 Experiencing flow states may have facilitated positive affect and life
satisfaction (Shoo & Sahu, 2009) as well as the development of a sense
of purpose and meaning in life (Hicks & King, 2009; Kashdan &
McKnight, 2009)
Experiencing flow states with others has been found to be more
enjoyable via “emotional contagion” (Walker, 2010) and to facilitate
relationships via feelings of self-expansion (Graham, 2009)
As a component of self-actualization, the ability to enter flow states
may have been selected for by facilitating mate acquisition and
retention (Kenrick, Griskevicius, Neuberg & Schaller, 2010)
Rituals and their required focused attention may have facilitated group
bonding via synchrony and the achievement of flow states (Rossano,
Multilevel selection favored cohesive human groups (Richerson & Boyd,
Back To The Mountain
 The harsh conditions and circumstances experienced
by the Andes survivors met the contextual
requirements for experiencing flow states
Focus and concentration devoted survival
 The Andes survivors likely entered states of flow
during their nightly ritual of reciting the rosary and
during moments of intense appreciation for the
beauty of their surroundings
 These moments of flow facilitated their bonding and
subsequently contributed to their survival
Back To The Mountain Cont’d
 “I forgot myself in the intensity of my concentration.
… for a while I felt as if everything I had ever been
had disappeared, and that I was now nothing more
than the pure will to climb. … I had never felt so
focused, so driven, so fiercely alive. For those
astonishing moments, my suffering was over, my life
had become pure flow.” (Parrado, 2006, p. 197)
 Can you think of another adaptive function(s) for
flow states?
 Have you ever experienced a flow state?
 Do you think situations/contexts we associate with
greater meaning are more conducive to flow states?
Back To Dagobah!
 The take-home message:
 Just for fun (outtro):
 de Manzano, O., Cervenka, S., Karabanov, A., Farde, L. & Ullen, F. (2010).
Thinking outside a less intact box: thalamic dopamine D2 receptor
densities are negatively related to psychometric creativity in health
individuals. PLOS ONE, 5(5), 1-6. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010670
 Graham, J. M. (2008). Self-expansion and flow in couples’ momentary
experiences: an experience sampling study.
Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology, 95(3), 679-694.
doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.95.3.679
 Hicks, J. A. & King, L. A. (2009) Meaning in life as a subjective judgment and
lived experience. Social And Personality Psychology Compass, 638-653.
doi: 10.1111/j.1751-9004.2009.00193.x
 Kashdan, T. B. & McKnight, P. E. (2009). Origins of purpose in life:
refining our understanding of a life well lived. Psychological Topics, 2,
References Cont’d
 Kenrick, D. T., Griskevicius, V., Neurberg, S. L. & Schaller, M. (2010).
Renovating the pyramid of needs: contemporary extensions built
upon ancient foundations. Perspectives On Psychological Science,
5(3), 292-314. doi: 10.1177/1745691610369469
Nakamura, J & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2002). The concept of flow.
In C. R. Synder and S. J. Lopez (Eds),
The Handbook Of Positive Psychology, (pp. 89-105).
Parrado, N. (2006). Miracle in the andes. New York: Three Rivers Press.
Richerson, P. J. & Boyd, R. (2005)
Not by genes alone: how culture transformed human evolution.
London: The University Of Chicago Press.
Rossano, M. J. (2010). Supernatural selection: how religion evolved.
Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Shoo, F. M. & Sahu, R. (2009). The role of flow experience in human
happiness. Journal Of The Indian Academy Of Applied Psychology, 35,
References Cont’d
 Ullen, F., de Manzano, O., Almeida, R. Magnusson, P. K. E., Pedersen, N. J.,
Nakamura, J. Csikszentmihalyi, M & Madison, G. (2012).
Proneness for psychological flow in everyday life: associations with
personality and intelligence. Personality And Individual Differences,
52(2) , 167-172. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2011.10.003
 Walker, C. J. (2010). Experiencing flow: is doing it together better than doing
it alone? The Journal Of Positive Psychology, 5(1), 3-11.
doi: 10.1080/17439760903271116
Video References
 Melodysheep. (2011, September 16). Yoda- feel the
force (yoda remixed). Retrieved from
 Myhomepage72212. (2009, October 23). Yoda
teaching skywalker (faith). Retrieved from
 Salazam. (2011, September 2). You must learn
control. Retrieved from

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