Go with the flow - but keep it stable: The effect of daily flow stability on daily creative performance

Jakob Stollberger, M.E. Debus

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review



Flow is a state of total immersion in an activity (e.g., Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). In this diary study, we hypothesized that for being highly creative on a certain day, it is important that employees have a high stability in their flow experiences (i.e., low variability) within the day, above and beyond the absolute level of flow experiences that same day.


44 participants completed three daily surveys (in the morning, after lunch, and at the end of the day) over the course of one working week (total of 602 measurements). Day-level flow was operationalized as the mean of the three daily flow measurements; day-level stability of flow was operationalized as the standard deviation of the same three measures.


Consistent with the hypotheses, employees showed higher day-level creative performance when they experienced higher day-level flow, and when their flow experiences within that same day were more stable.


All measures were assessed as self-reports, which induces the risk of common method bias.

Research/Practical Implications

The study highlights the importance of examining transient states such as flow with a greater magnifying lens; that is, focusing on the patterns that occur within days. Practically, organizations should promote flow among employees in order to increase their creative performance; moreover, organizations should create working conditions (such as few interruptions) that ensure high stability in employees’ flow experiences.


To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to take into account the issue of stability in the context of flow experiences.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe 17th Congress of the European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology
Publication statusUnpublished - 2 May 2015
Externally publishedYes


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