Flow is an intrinsically motivating state of consciousness characterized by simultaneous perception of high challenge and skill. The position that challenge–skill balance is the primary antecedent for achieving a flow state is unclear, and more research is needed to examine its impact on flow within multiple domains. Therefore, a meta-analysis was conducted on 28 studies examining the challenge–skill balance related to flow and intrinsic motivation in a variety of contexts. The results indicated that the relationship between challenge–skill balance and flow was moderate, and smaller with intrinsic motivation. Moderator analyses revealed weaker correlations when individuals were from an individualistic culture, in work or education contexts, using experience sampling method, and self-reporting state flow vs. trait. Compared to other theorized antecedents, challenge–skill balance was a robust contributor to flow along with clear goals and sense of control.
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