Can we find a quantifiable correlation between attention and flow state?

Raised of $1,006 Goal
Funded on 11/10/22
Successfully Funded
  • $2,413
  • 239%
  • Funded
    on 11/10/22

About This Project

Flow, aka "the zone", is at the center of peak performance and intrinsic motivation. Despite such benefits of flow, we are far from fully understanding it. In fact, objectively identifying flow has been an issue due to the subjective nature of flow experience and expensive gadgets to measure attentional state like eye trackers. Thus, this project aims to answer the following RQ: TWE is there a quantifiable correlation between attention and flow state?

Ask the Scientists

Join The Discussion

What is the context of this research?

The term ‘flow state’, coined by M. Csikszentmihalyi, refers to one’s mental state when immersed in an activity. Colloquially called "being in the zone," flow state can "transform a previously unengaging task into that which is intrinsically motivating.” While further investigation of the nature of flow state is vital, researchers face challenges to objectively identify flow state due to 1) the subjective nature of flow experience, and 2) lack of access to quantitative neurological indicators such as EEG. Despite these challenges, recent studies have proposed an alternative to objectively measure flow state: attention. However, the high costs of such gadgets have been acting as barriers for further research on flow state.

What is the significance of this project?

According to a 10-year McKinsey study, top executives' productivity increased to 500% in flow state. Apart from increased productivity, flow state is known to boost personal development and happiness as Csikszentmihalyi claims that flow state as an essential component for personal happiness. Flow state has even been found to correlate strongly with self-transcendent experiences like awe and heightened meaningfulness in life, suggesting life-changing benefits. Thus, an easily accessible and effective model to objectively measure flow state can advance flow state research and promote its benefits. In addition, the relationship between validated attention indexes and flow state quantification may enhance our understanding of the mechanism of flow state.

What are the goals of the project?

Deep learning models and other AI algorithms will be applied to estimate selected indicators of attention (i.e., blinks, head movement, head rotation) and calculate participant attention indexes via webcam recording, while the Flow State Scale (FSS) will be used as a measure of ground truth for participants' flow state. A software prototype will be developed to store collected data, perform data visualization, and etc. Using the prototype, a behavioral attention experiment will be conducted to calculate the participants' attention index and analyze the correlation between attention and flow state. A research paper that summarizes the procedures and results of this project will be submitted. The data and code will be publicized to promote further research.


Please wait...

Remuneration for experiment participation: To provide incentives for the participants' effort and time, each participant will receive a $15 Amazon gift card. For 24 participants, it will require a total of $360. ($15*24 = $360)

Software costs: Winrar–To run experiment tasks on mac ($46.37) + Parallel Desktop–Allows to run software and files from Windows on Mac ($99.99)

High-Performance Computing (HPC) virtual machine cost: This will be the cost of using AWS HPC solutions in order to improve the deep learning computing speed for my head pose estimation model.

In return of the funding, throughout the duration of the project, the backers will receive the following results/updates on the project:

  1. Demo videos of the machine learning model for attention estimation
  2. Screenshots or videos on experiment setup and execution
  3. Screenshots of data/results from the pilot study and the actual experiment

Also, the backer's name will be listed on the front page of the research paper of this project!

Endorsed by

I am really excited for this project. The research team has carefully considered the factors to examine. Flow state is typically studied in qualitative ways and it will be refreshing and valuable to assess this phenomenon in quantifiable objective ways through this project. Studying both Attentional aspects and flow states is highly important for clues and insights into mental health management and performance optimisation in a distractive and overwhelming world.
I am really excited to see the outcome of this research led by Chanyeong. He is asking strong questions and is passionate about pursuing research to contribute to the field.
As Chanyeong's computer science teacher, I am so excited to see how much he has learned! Chanyeong has the skills and resilience to do novel work, and I hope his findings can help us become more productive and fulfilled.
Accessing flow state is an incredibly rewarding experience, and one that keeps me coming back to rowing practice every single day. I would be really excited to see if flow state correlates with attention. Chanyeoung is a very dedicated and hard worker, and I believe he'll do what it takes to see this project to a successful completion.
I am Greg Baek of Inventech Lab, who partially guided and encouraged this student's research. This project has important contents that can effectively analyze the flow of the psychological state. Of course, more trials are needed, but I think it is an attempt to predict the psychological flow more accurately with the development of artificial intelligence. I believe that if we give this student more attention and help, we can complete the research of very innovative artificial intelligence.
I am really excited to see this project lift off. Knowing to he research it will be exciting to see how the research adds to the general body of flow state knowledge.
This project is exciting and will be very helpful to my students who want to improve their study habits. I believe Chanyeong’s project will help many students to study effectively in the future.
This project takes an exciting and low-cost approach to understanding the links between attention and flow state. Chanyeong has a strong interest in the psychology and neuroscience of flow, and has demonstrated the coding and research skills to conduct this promising project. Combining easy-to-use video and custom ML software, Chanyeong's project has the potential to deepen our understanding of flow with practical applications for enhancing productivity and happiness.
This project is incredibly exciting, and will be a great way to break ground in attention research! Chanyeong is a strong researcher, and is constantly innovatively thinking about his ideas and how to approach AI research.
This project targets an area of significant unmet need for consumers and researchers alike! We know that real-time attentional neurofeedback has significant performance benefits. In an exciting and important application of this principle, this project will ultimately provide individuals with personalized, real-time attention feedback on their personal computers.

Project Timeline

Individual analysis models for visual attention have already been built and tested. However, the slow computing speed of head rotation estimation model is a limiting factor to effectively analyze videos of each experiment participants. When the prototype is completed, the participants will engage in flow-inducing tasks while being recorded. After collecting all of their data, I will post the code for the model and GUI on Github Repository and submit the research paper for publication

Jan 22, 2022

Project launched 

May 30, 2022

Finish research on flow state and practical measurements of flow state

Jul 03, 2022

Finish attention index estimation model

Jul 11, 2022

Finish FSS survey backend connection

Sep 02, 2022

Refine error handling of the attention index estimation index model & develop workflow of the complete model

Meet the Team

Chanyeong Park
Chanyeong Park


Singapore American School
View Profile

Chanyeong Park

Hi! I am a rising senior in Singapore American School with great interests in Cognitive Science, especially about Computational Thinking(CT) and Artificial Intelligence(AI). Apart from academics, I enjoy solving coding questions, reading books, playing basketball, and gazing at the nature.

Project Backers

  • 34Backers
  • 239%Funded
  • $2,413Total Donations
  • $70.97Average Donation
Please wait...