May the Flow be with You: Age Differences in the Influence of Social Motives and Context on the Experience of Activity Engagement

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Motivational precursors to maintaining an active lifestyle across the lifespan are not well understood. Intrinsic experience and values can motivate activity engagement, but age-related change in resources and temporal horizons may moderate these effects. Flow (Csikszentmihalyi et al., 2005) is the phenomenological experience of complete absorption in an activity, which can engender engagement in the activity for its own sake. We explored how the purpose (communal or agentic) and context (social or individual) of an activity impact the Flow experience as a function of age. Across the lifespan, agentic activities produced a heightened Flow experience compared to communal activities, supporting the idea that Flow plays a lifelong role in the development and maintenance of mastery. However, Flow was disproportionately enhanced for communal activities with age, suggesting that social motives may increasingly contribute to the pleasures of activity engagement with progression through the adult lifespan.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Adult Development
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • Activity
  • Adult development
  • Engagement
  • Flow
  • Socioemotional selectivity
  • Values

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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