Flow and Media Enjoyment


  • John L. Sherry

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    1. John Sherry (PhD, Michigan State University) is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at Michigan State University
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should be directed to the author at the Department of Communication, Michigan State University, 473 Communication Arts and Sciences, East Lansing, MI 48824; email: jsherry@msu.edu.


Media enjoyment is theorized by synthesizing empirical literature from uses and gratifications with Csikszentmihalyi's flow theory. This article argues that enjoyment of media results from a flow experience realized when media message content balances with individual ability to interpret that message. Further, it theorizes that media experience, along with individual differences in cognitive abilities, facilitates or prevents flow state in media users. Therefore, it is a balance between individual differences in cognitive abilities and media message challenges that explains enjoyment of media use. The authors offer the case of video game usage as an exemplar, and examples of cognitive tasks are provided and linked to game genre content.