Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 267–284 | Cite as

Seeking flow in the achievement domain: The achievement flow motive behind flow experience

  • Nicola Baumann
  • David Scheffer
Original Paper


The authors propose a flow motive behind flow experience. It is defined as the intrinsic component of the achievement motive (i.e., need to seek and master difficulty), assessed with an operant motive test (OMT), and investigated with a multimethod approach. The achievement flow motive was stable over 2 years (Study 1) and positively correlated with the following variables: self-determination (Study 2), work-efficiency according to multisource feedbacks (Study 3), and flow experience during an outdoor assessment center (Study 4). In addition, the achievement flow motive was associated with the simultaneous presence of two sets of overt behaviors: Seeing difficulty (planning, analytical problem solving, and task focus) and mastering difficulty (high commitment, spreading optimism, and staying power). The direct relationship between achievement flow motive and flow experience was mediated by this behavioral pattern (Study 4). The achievement flow motive offers researchers a way to operationalize Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of autotelic personality.


Flow Autotelic personality Implicit motives Operant motive test (OMT) Self-determination State versus trait Work efficiency Affect Personality systems interaction theory (PSI Theory) 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Differential Psychology, Personality Psychology and Diagnostics, Department IUniversity of TrierTrierGermany
  2. 2.NordakademieHochschule der WirtschaftElmshornGermany

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