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date: 08 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Media entertainment frequently elicits rapt attention, loss of self-consciousness, high levels of enjoyment along with a sense that time is passing more quickly or more slowly than usual. This state is often referred to as flow. For over two decades, scholars have sought to understand when and why media produce flow experiences in audiences. The synchronization theory of flow (STF) advanced flow research by specifying the neural underpinnings of flow experiences and how these neural substrates are influenced by entertaining media. In the intervening years, research from a variety of fields has provided support for the core predictions of STF and has highlighted promising areas for future investigation. This chapter reviews the current state and future directions of STF, focusing on its potential for creating a bridge between media entertainment research and other vibrant research domains including motivated decision-making and neuroaesthetics.

Keywords: flow, experience, media, entertainment, theory, effort, reward, neuroaesthetics, synchronization, audience

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