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human motivation article notes

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PSYC 471
Richard Koestner

Motivation Reading #6: The Measurement of Flow in Everyday Life - If the experience meets certain criteria and the action is rewarding in itself, we are likely to keep going and say that we want to do whatever we are doing. This is the class of behaviors we call intrinsically motivated. -Some intrinsically motivated actions are rewarding because they involve sensations that our nervous system has been programmed to seek out. Pleasure includes positive responses to food, se, relaxation, and the stimulation of certain chemical substances. -The other category of intrinsically motivated behavior includes emergent rewards. These are positive sensations arising from thee experience of holistic involvement that follows upon concentration and skilled performance. This kind of reward we call enjoyment. -Pleasure and enjoyment are not mutually exclusive, and they can be present in consciousness at the same time. - If the experience is not rewarding we stop the activity or else we go on because we have to do it, in which case the behavior is said to be extrinsically motivated. Flow and Emergent Motivation In all the various groups studied (rock climbers, chess players, athletes and artists), the respondents reported a very similar subjective experience that they enjoyed so much that they were willing to go to great lengths to experience it again. This we called the flow experience. What people do to enter the flow state varies by culture, gender, age, class and personal inclination, but the structure of the experience appears to be remarkably similar. Flow is a subjective state that people report when they are completely involved in something to the point of forgetting time, fatigue, and everything else but the activity itself. The depth of involvement is something we find enjoyable and intrinsically rewarding. What makes the optimal experience of flow possible? 1) A deeply involving flow experience usually happens when there are clear goals a person tries to reach, and when we get immediate and unambiguous feedback as to how well we are doing. 2) Another condition that makes flow experiences possible is balance between opportunities for action in a given situation and ones ability to act. When challenges and skills are relatively high and well matched, all ones attention needs to be focused on the task at hand. Characteristic Dimensions of the Flow Experience When people enjoy what they are doing, they typically report most of the following: Clear goals: it is clear what should be done Immediate feedback: one knows how well one is doing Challenges=skills: the opportunities for action are relatively high, and they are met by ones perceived ability to act. Action and awareness merge: one-pointedness of mind Concentration at the task at hand: irrelevant stimuli disappear from consciousness, worries and concerns are temporarily eliminated. Control: a sense of personal control Loss of self-consciousness: transcendence of ego boundaries, a sense of growth and being part of some greater entity Sense of time altered: time usually seems to pass fasterExperience becomes autotelic: if several of the previous conditions are present, what one does becomes autotelic, or worth doing for its own sake. 3) Another element of the flow experience: the merging of action and awareness. One becomes so concentrated and involved that the usual dualism between actor and action disappears; one feels as if on automatic pilot, doing what needs to be done without conscious effort. 4) People report forgetting their troubles because the intensity of the experience precludes ruminating on the past or the future. 5) This further leads to a loss of self-consciousness, so that we no longer worry about how we look, or whether others like us; in fact, people often mention a feeling of self-transcendence. 6) A distortion of the sense of time is often reported, so that hours seem to pass by in minutes. 7) When most of the previous dimensions are present in consciousness, the activity tends to become autotelicworth doing for its own sake. Why is the Flow Experience Rewarding? One popular explanation of why people prefer to experience flow in different activities has been that the enjoyment derived from apparently self-rewarding activities really occurs because they are a disguised release for repressed desires. Another explanation holds that those who engage in dangerous sports like hang gliding or rock climbing have peculiar personality traits that drive them to seek sensation. Another explanation of why some individuals are drawn to rock climbing and others to chess is provided by the concept of interest. A person is predisposed to become involved in an activity either because of previous positive feelings associated with it or because value has been attributed to itboth of these constituting individual interest; or the person may be predisposed by situational interest, if the activit
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