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The higher the purpose, the higher the flow: The impact of action identification on the collective flow

  • Auteurs : M. Simlesa CESI LINEACT
  • Conférence : EAWOP 2017 European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology Conference., 6 juin 2017
  • Ville : Dublin (Ireland)

Collective flow, or the process of optimal human collaboration reflecting in objective productivity, subjective wellbeing, group absorption and cohesion, is a relatively new concept in the field of positive work psychology. Based on conceptual work on flow (Csikszentmihalyi, year) and action identification theory (Vallacher & Wegner, 1985, 1986) we tested the importance of the level of task identification in relation to the collective flow. We argue that prepotent high-level task identification signifying the ultimate purpose of the task have a beneficial influence on the quality of team collaboration in the context of Persona method.
To test these assumptions, we conducted an experimental study on 72 French students in engineering school. The task consisted in imagining creative applications of a new technology for two target groups represented by Personas. Student triades were allocated to two conditions: their objective was either to propose applications that would enhance the everyday life of target groups (lower level identification) of applications that would change the life of target groups (higher level identification).
The results showed that the high-level action-identification significantly increased the experience of flow, identification with the team, engagement, motivation, and positive affect compared to lower-level action identification condition.
It remains to be tested how this phenomenon works in larger groups, and in context of computer-mediated collaboration.
Results imply that higher levels of action identification allow better quality collaboration and higher level of team wellbeing.
To our knowledge, this is the first empirical study providing insights into the relationship between action identification and teamwork.