Gender as a Moderator of Flow and Mindfulness

Jessica Ford, The Catholic University of America, USA

Theme: Mental training/interventions

Poster Number: 38

Program ID: POS-1

Presentation: October 3, 2013 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Room: Napoleon


Athletes often refer to flow, or the state of complete engagement in a task (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990), as being in “the zone” (e.g., Kaufman et al., 2009; Young & Pain, 1999), which is associated with heightened performance. To fully experience flow, one must have the ability to prepare one’s consciousness, which introduces the role of mindfulness in flow (Csikszentmihalyi, 1975; Russell, 2001). Kee and Wang (2008) found that athletes who can experience mindfulness, or acting in the present moment non-judgmentally (Kabat-Zinn, 1994), are also more likely to achieve a state of flow. Because of the role sport performance plays in the social construction of gender (Capranica et al., 2013), it is important to assess these related constructs of flow and mindfulness across gender. The present study contained 55 NCAA Division I runners (29 women and 26 men) from two cross-country teams in the Washington DC area, ranging in age from 17 to 25 (M =19.35). Runners completed questionnaires examining mindfulness, dispositional flow, and a measure of state flow following a 2-mile time trial. Independent samples t-tests revealed a significant gender difference in mindfulness, such that men had higher levels of total mindfulness than women on the total mindfulness subscale of the PHLMS. There were no significant differences across gender on the mindfulness subscales of the FFMQ. Additionally, no significant differences were found in any of the constructs of flow in men and women. These findings echo previous literature, which has failed to establish significant gender differences for these constructs. However, correlational analyses of these measures revealed several interesting gender differences. Total flow was related to total mindfulness in women, but only specific dimensions of flow significantly related to total mindfulness in men. This may suggest the possibility that certain aspects of these constructs may be differentially important for men and women.

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