Investigating flow facilitated by art-making, and potential implications on identity, conflict and wellbeing

Ingleton, H 2020, Investigating flow facilitated by art-making, and potential implications on identity, conflict and wellbeing , PhD thesis, University of Salford.

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Abstract

The aim of this research is to explore the facilitation, experience and measurement of flow (Csikszentmihaly, 1979), and group flow in particular, through individual and collaborative creating and to note the potential implications of this for identity, wellbeing and conflict. Previous research on group flow facilitated by collaborative arts is limited to the medium of music (Pels, Kleinert & Mennigen, 2018; Gaggioli, Chirico, Mazzoni, Milani & Riva, 2015; Gloor, Oster & Fischbach, 2013; Hart & Blasé, 2016; Keeler, Roth, Neuser, Spitsbergen, Waters & Vianney, 2015; Macdonald, Byrne & Carlton, 2006; Sawyer, 2006; Zumeta, Basabe, Wlodarczyk, Bobowik & Paez, 2016). There is also very little research exploring the role of identity within collaborative arts and possible implications for intergroup conflict resolution (Zelizer, 1997; Nemeth & Nemeth Brown, 2003; Crocker & Luhtanen, 1990; Worchel & Coutant, 2004; Zelizer, 2003; Balkrishnan; 2017; Lee, 2013). Research addressing these concerns is presented in six studies in this thesis. Study 1 measured flow using Jackson & Marsh’s (1996) Flow State Scale and found no difference in flow scores between art and non-art collaborative task groups, indicating that capturing the ephemeral nature of flow in a group art activity presents particular empirical challenges. More propitiously, study 2 explored identity, experiences of flow and of collaborative creating through semi-structured interviews with University of Salford students, where thematic analysis revealed the development of themes from initial negative feelings and assumptions toward the out-group; comfort with the initial in-group; a sense of responsibility/respect for all; a need to express; unity/togetherness; and change in feelings/atmosphere. Themes indicate the lived experience of group flow and potential implications for identity and the salience of group conflict. Study 3 draws data from Study 1 and performs a semiotic analysis of artwork procured from each creating condition. The semiotic analysis identified symbols including unity and peace and provided useful insights into the experiential nature of collaborative creating placed in a setting where participants initially identify as opposing groups. Study 4 demonstrated no significant differences in flow (measured again using the Flow State Scale) between individual and collaborative creating, but also revealed a significant positive relationship between flow and the engagement construct of stress (measured by Helton’s Short Stress Scale), thus implicating flow in wellbeing and psychological health, potentially regardless of the type of art activity involved. Study 5 draws from data from Study 4, and performs a semiotic analysis of artwork taken from the individual and collaborative creating conditions. Symbols were identified from the collaborative condition, that highlight inclusivity and potentially synchronicity that can be closely related to being in group flow (Sawyer 2015). Insights on differences between individual and collaborative creating are also identified. The 6th and final study explores the creating experience further through exploring the lived experiences of artists through Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). From the artists’ perspectives, 6 super-ordinate themes were derived including my art, my own; groups coming together to create; a relaxed, safe space; blending; the inevitable conflict; impact, openness and release. From these themes, the lived experience of group flow is demonstrated and discussed in the context of identity, wellbeing and conflict. Overall this research has potentially important implications for identifying the appropriate ways in which to measure flow and group flow, provides insight into the experiences of artists engaging in collaborative creating, and indicates a prospective role for flow in wellbeing and for identity salience and the perception of inter-group conflict.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Contributors: Dubrow-Marshall, R (Supervisor)
Schools: Schools > School of Health and Society
Depositing User: Hailee Ingleton
Date Deposited: 07 Oct 2020 11:13
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2020 11:13
URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/57995

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