research steven has been & Is involved In:


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The Flow Profile

The profile is something of a trait-ology, meaning it says if you’re this kind of person, you’re most likely to find flow in this direction. That said, when we first created this survey, it was meant as an introduction to these concepts more than a formal bit of research. Yet, as more than 70,000 people (as of Dec. 2017) have taken this questionnaire, it has become one of the largest surveys ever conducted in optimal psychology. What’s more, it’s proven itself effective. People consistently report that the information provided by the profile is extremely useful as a guide for hunting more flow. For these reasons, we’ve started to treat our results as “a found data set” (which is common in fields like anthropology) and are now using it as a basis for further inquiry.

Testing the Triggers

In a joint research project conducted with Google in 2015, FGP trained a group of engineers in four basic principles of high performance and the use of four triggers. After six weeks of daily work, study subjects reported a 30-80 percent increase in flow. Starting in early 2017, we’re moving into a more formal examination of the flow triggers. We’ve teamed up with a team of academics to create a more rigorous survey of the triggers and their role in generating flow. For example…

Flow and Creativity

In 2015, we began thinking hard about better ways to evaluate flow’s impact on creativity. Work done by Csikszentmihaly (described in his awesome book Creativity), coupled with independent studies done by Harvard professor Teresa Amabile and University of Sydney professors Allen Snyder and Richard Chi, show that flow can significantly boost creativity and that that heightened creativity seems to outlast the state by a day, sometimes two. But no one has figured out exactly which specific creative skills (i.e., idea generation or problem solving etc.) are impacted the most, nor which triggers are most useful in determining how to trigger a creative flow state. In early 2016, we undertook a giant meta-analysis of 80 different creativity studies to determine what exactly we wanted to measure. Then, in October of 2017, we launched our study. Data is currently being compiled and reviewed, but we’re hoping to have a white paper completed by February 2018. Stay tuned….


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Flow and Psychedelics

In December of 2017, in conjunction with Mendel Kalean, a neuroscientist in Robin Carhartt Harris’ lab at Imperial College, London (who you might remember from Stealing Fire, as Robin in the person currently doing the most neuro-imaging work on psychedelics), we’ve launched a comparison study between psychedelics and flow. Our goal is to examine flow triggers in relationship to set and setting (essentially pre-conditions that impact the quality of a psychedelic experience) and to compare the psychological impact of these experiences. We hope to have this paper written by early spring 2018.

Flow and Addiction

In Summer of 2018, in conjunction with researchers in Csikszentmihalyi’s lab at Drucker University, we’re beginning the long journey of trying to tease apart the complicated relationship between flow and addiction.

Flow and Business Success

In Spring 2018, in conjunction with researchers at Deloitte’s Center for the Edge, we’re going to be launching a survey that drills down into flow’s impact on business success—specifically trying to determine the role flow plays in workplace performance.


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Flow In Education

In conjunction with Kevin Votaw and the Pillager schools in Pillager, Minnesota, we’re embarking on a multi-year research programs with grade school students. There are four main goals to this work: We’re examining the Flow Profile in conjunction with the flow triggers in an attempt to determine if certain profile types show greater susceptibility to specific triggers. We’re examining the overlap between the Play Profile (designed by Stuart Brown and the Institute for Play) and the Flow Profile, looking for overlap between play style and Flow Profile designation. We’re examining the relationship between mindset and flow in educational settings. We’re examining the relationship between grit and flow in educational settings.

The Altered States Economy

This is an ongoing attempt to calculate the amount of money people spend attempting to alter their consciousness. It was originally introduced in Stealing Fire and has since become an open-source research project—meaning your contributions are welcome. If you’d like to help move this project forward, please email us at


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