Traditionally, feelings of competitiveness have been seen to inhibit the experience of flow. Competitiveness focuses a person�s attention on him or herself and results, which is incompatible with a flow experience.
However, in previous flow research, competitiveness has been defined as anxiety about winning and focus on an external reward. The current study suggests that people who are competitive often enjoy competition for its own sake, rather than as a means to an external reward, and that such people will experience flow in competitive situations
To test this idea, adult recreational runners and cyclists who participate in races of about an hour�s duration will be recruited to take an internet-based survey. Recruitment will take place through postings on internet sites affiliated with races that meet those qualifications, and through running and cycling internet groups. Postings will be done with permission from the race or group organizers; no unsolicited messages (spam) will be sent. Participants will be told the aim of the study is to measure athletes� competitive style and enjoyment, and will be offered a chance to look at their scores after taking the survey.
The internet survey will measure the following constructs: 1) Participants� degree and style of competitive attitude (reward-focused or experience-focused), and 2) their degree of enjoyment of competitive situations. The degree to which they need to feel social approval will also be measured, and they will also be asked for demographic information.