Expanding our concepts of the quality of everyday travelling with flow theory.

In our new paper "Have a good trip! Expanding our concepts of the quality of everyday travelling with flow theory", we explore how flow theory could enrich and deepen our understanding of the positive value of travel/being on the move. Flow is an experience that occurs when a person is fully immersed in doing something that provides, level of challenge enough to keep the person concentrated, avoiding boredom or distraction. This experience is profoundly enjoyable, even if mundane, and valuable in its own right. 
Here is a nice video by FightMediocrity summarizing flow theory in 5 minutes.

And Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi talking about flow in a TED Talk.
In our paper, we conclude that: 
  • Most modes offer the potential for experiencing flow in different degrees by triggering mental states of awareness, increased creativity, concentration, disregard for the sense of self, and slowing down on time. 
  • Everyday travelling offers rich challenges and feedback mechanisms that individuals can use to trigger their flow state (e.g. for cyclists: taking routes that are safe, aesthetically pleasing, avoiding traffic lights; for car drivers: changing speed, changing routes, listening to music/radio). 
  •  Travel modes that involve physical movement associated with deep bodily involvement and relatively high control over the trip offer more opportunities for experiencing flow. 
  • Less embodied modes, such as public transport, can contribute to flow experiences by leaving time to other enjoyable activities. 
  • Negative external conditions (e.g. congestion, road noise, unsafe road environment, aesthetics) could disturb the flow experience.
Paper available open access here.
Many thanks for a great collaboration to Marco Te Brömmelstroet Anna Nikolaeva, Catarina Dias Cadima, Ersilia Verlinghieri, Antonio Ferreira, Miloš Mladenović, João Abreu, Enrica Papa!

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