Universal and Cultural Dimensions of Optimal Experiences

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flow experience, human evolution, Jujitsu-kan, universality, cultural differences
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In the past 40 years, the phenomenon of flow—the full involvement with what one is doing, which is experienced as enjoyable and uplifting—has been found to be recognized in every culture where it has been studied. On the other hand, research has also shown that in different cultures, the experience itself might be different. In this paper we try to describe first what the flow experience consists of, what its evolutionary significance might be, and then focus on a peculiarly Japanese way in which flow seems to be experienced—the culturally specific concern for living up to the expectations of the culture—or Jujitsu-kan. We argue that this concern for an external standard, which in Western cultures would interrupt the flow experience, in the context of Japanese culture might play a significant role in enhancing it.

Why is this publication important in experience research?

Flow theory is one of the most popular theories applied in experience research. This publication explores flow theory in the context of Japanese culture.