Date of Graduation


Document Type



The validation of the flow theory in an on-site whitewater setting is examined. A-priori hypotheses emphasized 3 concerns: (1) the relationship between a four channel model of flow and specific levels of flow indicators, (2) differences in the explanatory power of the four channel model and an original model of flow, and (3) the relationship between river difficulty and the frequencies of four channels (flow, anxiety, apathy, and boredom). On-site experiences of 52 whitewater kayakers were assessed with a series of single page questionnaires administered in the Cheat River Canyon in West Virginia. Sampling techniques involved a modification of the Experience Sampling Method (ESM) using eight measurement intervals of varying levels of river difficulty. Data was analyzed at the level of experience (n = 409). A-priori hypothesis testing, based on the results of statistical analyses (ANOVA, linear regression, and Chi-square test of association), supported the validation of the flow theory. This validation was demonstrated by the significant relationship between a four channel model and the quality of kayaking experiences, the positivity of experience during a state of flow, the explanatory power of the four channel model, and differences in channel frequencies between river stages supporting the ecological validity of the challenge-skill predictor. Patterns of results which were contrary to expectation indicate similarities in the quality of experience between flow and anxiety channels, suggesting that whitewater kayakers may have positive experiences even when their abilities are exceeded by the difficulty of the river.