Institute of Art Design + Technology
Dún Laoghaire

Conor Morgan 

BSc [Hons] Applied Psychology

I have just completed the BSc in Applied Psychology from IADT. My areas of interest are in the fields of positive, transpersonal, cognitive, and new media psychology. I am also a musician, and for my dissertation I conducted research with modern music performers. The title of the research was ‘Investigating the Relationships Between Dispositional Flow, Conscientiousness, and Self-efficacy in Contemporary Performing Musicians’. A summary of the research is provided below.

Project Description

Flow states are experiences often described as “being in the zone” and are characterised by loss of awareness of surroundings and sense of time, as well as complete absorption in the task at hand. These states are frequently experienced by creative people including musicians engaged in playing and performing music. This study aimed at exploring the propensity or disposition for this experience in performers of modern music genres, as much of previous research has focused on orchestral musicians or music students. Based on previous relationships found in similar research, self-efficacy and conscientiousness were measured and their relationship with dispositional flow explored in this context. Self-efficacy is the belief in one's ability to achieve a goal, and conscientiousness is the personality trait of being dutiful in one's work and responsibility. Performing contemporary musicians, between the ages of 18-25, living in the UK and Ireland took part in the study.

Project Objectives

To explore the relationship that self-efficacy and conscientiousness had with dispositional flow in performing contemporary musicians, who had performed in the last 6 months, between the ages of 18 - 25, living in Ireland or the UK.

Project Outcomes

Results of the statistical analysis using a regression model indicated that dispositional flow scores increase as conscientiousness scores increase, meaning that conscientiousness appears to predict propensity for flow in contemporary performing musicians. Interestingly, despite having a moderate positive correlational relationship, self-efficacy did not significantly predict dispositional flow in the regression model. Previous research found positive predictive relationships between self-efficacy and flow. These contrary findings suggest further research should be done to better understand this relationship, particularly in light of previously evidenced benefits of self-efficacy on wellbeing for musicians. Age, culture, or other factors specific to this study may have influenced the results. Considering previous research that found associations between flow prone personalities and conscientiousness, the findings of this study are noteworthy. These findings suggest that conscientiousness may be the reason that certain persons have better propensity for flow experiences. Key strengths of this study were addressing the lack of research in measuring trait as opposed to state flow in the context of music performance, and its sampling of contemporary as opposed to orchestral musicians for the same reason. Future research suggestions include qualitative methods which may provide insights into the nuances of flow experiences in this context and further explain the non-significant predictive relationship of self-efficacy on dispositional flow found in this study.

Thesis Title

Investigating the Relationships Between Dispositional Flow, Conscientiousness, and Self-efficacy in Contemporary Performing Musicians