Date of Thesis

5-1-2013

Thesis Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Type

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

John Ptacek

Abstract

Psychological flow describes the mental phenomenon that takes place during intense engagement with a task (Jackson & Csikszentmihalyi, 1999). Its components have been operationalized through the development of the Flow State Scale (Jackson & Eklund, 2002). As feedback has been shown to be a critical element for the facilitation of a flow experience (Moneta, 2012), the current study sought to investigate the effect of differential feedback on psychological flow outcomes using the FSS as the dependent variable. The feedback manipulation featured three experimental groups; control, positive, and negative. This study also accounted for the personality trait of perfectionism as a variable influencing the experience of flow. Following the completion of a personality measure, participants engaged in a bolt threading task for ten minutes, then reported the time they perceived to have spent on the task as well as the outcome of their flow experience. The feedback conditions were created by the use of different size containers for participants to place their nut and bolt pairs in, and thus feedback was inherent in the task. The study found that feedback played an important role in the outcome of a flow experience. The positive feedback condition was more conducive to flow than the negative feedback condition. Furthermore, those in the positive condition outperformed those in the negative condition during the ten minutes. Goal clarity and feedback clarity differed significantly across feedback manipulations. Perfectionism¿s impact on the outcome of flow was more pronounced in the negative feedback condition than the positive or control conditions. In settings where engagement and performance are imperative, ample attention should be given to the feedback processes present in the situation.

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