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Abstract

This paper provides a critical review to analyze the promises and important challenges of studying flow, a psychological state, in the computer-mediated environments (CME). Despite the strong interest in IS, HCI, Marketing, Education, and other research disciplines over more than a decade, adapting the phenomenon of flow to computer users in the literature shows inconsistencies and discrepancies. Few studies attempted to provide a coherent picture of the area. Based on a careful examination of the literature, we identify both conceptual and methodological challenges (operationalization of the constructs and data collection methods) faced when studying flow in computer-mediated environments. Although not all challenges are solved in the literature, we point out directions and possible solutions for many challenges and call for more studies in this promising area. The paper discusses implications for research in human computing behavior in general and in flow in particular. It cautions researchers to examine hidden assumptions of theories in other disciplines before applying them to address IS issues and concerns.

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