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Title: Flow, materialism, and well-being : exploring the psychology of sustainable prosperity
Author: Isham, Amy
ISNI:       0000 0004 8503 1630
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis explored the phenomenon of psychological flow as a means to improved well-being with reduced environmental impact. In particular, it was concerned with the how and why materialistic values may influence our ability to experience flow. By analysing experience sampling methodology data, Study 1 demonstrated that engagement in more intense or frequent flow experiences was linked to greater personal well-being. Equally, there was a negative relationship between the extent to which an activity tended to support flow and its environmental impact. Studies 2-4 assessed the nature of the relationship between materialistic values and the tendency to experience flow. A survey found that those individuals displaying the strongest materialistic values tended to be less prone to experiencing flow in their everyday lives. Two experimental studies then found that priming a materialistic mind-set led individuals to report poorer quality flow experiences in a subsequent activity period. A theory to account for why materialistic values undermine flow experiences arose from a number of secondary data analyses. Study 5 tested this theory at the trait level using survey measures. Individuals holding stronger materialistic values were more inclined to use their self-regulatory resources to avoid undesirable thoughts and feelings, which in turn was associated with lower levels of self-regulatory strength to dedicate to flow activities. Study 6 used experimental methods to show that situationally depleting self-regulatory resources through the avoidance of negative states did not undermine the quality of a subsequent flow experience. The six studies show the potential for flow experiences to offer a route towards sustainable prosperity, whilst at the same time revealing the difficulty posed by materialistic values in trying to promote engagement in flow. Findings develop current understandings of the consequences of strong materialistic values and pave the way for interventions to promote engagement in flow and other sustainable behaviours.
Supervisor: Gatersleben, Birgitta ; Jackson, Tim Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral