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Chapter 2. Flow in Web Design > On Flow and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

On Flow and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a professor and former chair of the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago, pioneered the study of flow. He wrote that flow is the “holistic sensation that people feel when they act with total involvement.”[4]

[4] Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Beyond Boredom and Anxiety: Experiencing Flow in Work and Play (1975; reprint, with a Preface by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2000), 36.

Csikszentmihalyi wanted to understand the experience of enjoyment. He asked, what motivates people to perform better? Extrinsic rewards like money and prestige are limited resources that ultimately are about comparisons between people. Status is a zero-sum game; so something else must motivate us humans. Intrinsic rewards, doing activities for the sheer joy of it, are the key to understanding flow.[5]

[5] Ibid., 4.


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