A Person-Artefact-Task (PAT) Model of Flow Antecedents in Computer-Mediated Environments

Christina M. Finneran, Ping Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

215 Scopus citations


Flow theory has been applied to computer-mediated environments to study positive user experiences such as increased exploratory behavior, communication, learning, positive affect, and computer use. However, a review of the existing flow studies in computer-mediated environments in Psychology, Consumer Behavior, Communications, Human-Computer Interaction, and Management Information Systems shows ambiguities in the conceptualization of flow constructs and inconsistency in the flow models. It thus raises the question of whether the direct adoption of traditional flow theory is appropriate without a careful reconceptualization to consider the uniqueness of the computer-mediated environments. This paper focuses on flow antecedents and identifies the importance of separating the task from the artefact within a computer-mediated environment. It proposes a component-based model that consists of person (P), artefact (A), and task (T), as well as the interactions of these components. The model, named the PAT model, is developed by understanding the original flow theory, reviewing existing empirical flow studies within computer-mediated environments, and analysing the characteristics of computer-mediated environments. A set of propositions is constructed to demonstrate the predictive power of the model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)475-496
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Human Computer Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2003


  • Affect
  • Computer playfulness
  • Computer-mediated environment (CME)
  • Flow antecedents
  • Flow theory
  • Perceived ease of use (PEOU)
  • Person-artefact-task (PAT) model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • General Engineering
  • Education
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Hardware and Architecture


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