Special Session Summary Creating Flow Experiences: the Influence of Individual Factors on the Antecedents of Flow

Lisa Klein, Rice University
[ to cite ]:
Lisa Klein (2001) ,"Special Session Summary Creating Flow Experiences: the Influence of Individual Factors on the Antecedents of Flow", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 28, eds. Mary C. Gilly and Joan Meyers-Levy, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 252.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 28, 2001     Page 252



Lisa Klein, Rice University

Since the flow model was first introduced into the marketing literature as a framework for understanding consumer response to the new interactive media (Hoffman and Novak 1996), a stream of research has emerged that focuses on investigating the antecedents and consequences of flow. Understanding the construct of flow is a critical step in understanding how consumer behavior differs in interactive media. With respect to the antecedents of flow, much of the research to date has focused on the task and context factors that influence the consumer experiences of flow. Task factors have included the impact of goal-related versus experiential behaviors (Hoffman and Novak 1997, Novak, Hoffman and Yung 2000), while context factors studied have included user control (Klein 1999, Schlosser and Kanfer 1999) and media richness (Klein 1999). In contrast, this session focuses on the individual factors that influence the flow experience in interactive environments. Identifying critical individual differences in the tendency to experience flow will help us further isolate the construct from related ones and help marketing practitioners fully exploit the opportunities offered by customization.

Csikszentmihalyi (1990) first defined flow as "the process of optimal experience" and identified one of its critical antecedents as the fit between the perceived challenge and perceived expertise. When the level of perceived challenge and expertise are comparable and above an individual’s mean level, the individual feels stimulated, involved, and less conscious of outside environments and time. In the model proposed by Hoffman and Novak (1996), the key antecedents are: skill/challenge, arousal, attention focus, and telepresence. Each of the three papers explores the individual factors that may influence one of these antecedent; together, they provide a multi-method approach, using both surveys and experiments, to explore the flow model.

The three papers proposed for this session address the importance of locus of control (paper #1), processing style (paper #2), and expertise (paper#3) on the consumer flow experience in Web shopping environments. The first paper explores the influence of locus of control (LOC) on user satisfaction, goal-directed and experiential usage of the Internet, and use of the Web as a substitute for other activities. Earlier research has shown control to be a critical construct in the flow paradigm (Hoffman and Novak1996, 1997)

Here, the authors conduct a large scale survey focusing on the different usage patterns and experiences of those with an internal LOC versus an external LOC. The second paper investigates the role of processing style on enjoyment of the Web experience (challenge/arousal) and ultimately on flow overall.. The third paper focuses on the influence of expertise on telepresence, another antecedent to flow, elucidated in Hoffman and Novak’s model. The primary goals in this experimental study are: (1) to understand the criticality of telepresence to the response to the product and the advertisement and (2) to evaluate the impact of expertise on the process.

Overall, these papers work together to enrich our understanding of the form and boundaries of the Hoffman and Novak model (1996) of flow and its relationship to consumer experiences on the Web.