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Attentional Capacity & Flow Experiences: Examining the Attentional Component of Sync Theory


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Attentional Capacity & Flow Experiences: Examining the Attentional Component of Sync Theory

  1. 1.            17.313.216.112.717.316.48.613.318. Flow FrustrationFlowSelfReportExperimental ConditionBoredom Flow Frustration510.79593.47538.21460480500520540560580600Boredom Flow FrustrationResponseTimeExperimental ConditionWilks’ lambda = .68, F(2, 118) = 28.12, p < .001All pairwise comparisons significantly different, p < .014Wilks’ lambda = .928, F(2,119) = 4.626, p = .012All pairwise comparisons significantly different, p < .033Attentional Capacity & Flow Experiences: Examining the Attentional Component of Sync TheoryRené Weber & Richard HuskeyUniversity of California Santa Barbara | Department of CommunicationCondition DefinitionResourcesRequiredResourcesAllocatedAvailableResourcesBoredom Difficulty < skill Moderate Low High (fast RTs)Frustration Difficulty > skill High Low High (fast RTs)Flow Difficulty = skill High High Low (slow RTs)!Primary TaskSecondary TaskFlow experiences are characterized by unique affective and attentionalstates (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). These psychological states can beelicited by media exposure and can serve as a motivation for subsequentmedia use (Sherry, 2004). Recently, flow has been theorized as thecognitive synchronization of attentional and reward networks (Weber,Tamborini, Westcott-Baker, & Kantor, 2009). An experimental study testsassumptions about the role of attention in flow experiences andproposes the use of secondary taskresponse times as an unobtrusivemeasure of the attentionalcomponents of flow. Consistent withpredictions from Lang’s (2009) LC4MP,results show that response times arelongest under flow conditions. Theseresults offer preliminary support forthe attentional component ofsynchronization theory.References:Csíkszentmihályi, Mihály. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.Sherry, J. (2004). Flow and media enjoyment. Communication Theory, 14(4), 328–347.Weber, R., Tamborini, R., Westcott-Baker, A., & Kantor, B. (2009). Theorizing flow and media enjoyment as cognitivesynchronization of attentional and reward networks. Communication Theory, 19(4), 397-422.Lang, A. (2009). The limited capacity model of motivated mediated message processing. In R. L. Nabi & M. B. Oliver (Eds.), TheSAGE Handbook of Media Processes and Effects (pp. 193–204). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.