Professor Clive Fullagar, and associate professor Patrick Knight, Kansas State University, discovered that most people achieve flow with work that is neither too easy nor too hard but just right.
Fullagar said: "With Rock Band you can test several subjects at once as they play in a band. What happens when one member is in flow? Is there a contagion and do other people get in flow, or does it make them feel inferior?"
Knight added: "Another way we might look at that is what happens when one of the band members bombs out."
Fullagar explained: "For those students who have a moderate level of skill at Rock Band, the song has to be moderately challenging and match his or her skill level for optimal enjoyment to occur.
"That has broad implications for teaching. It means that if we want students to enjoy or get a lot of satisfaction out of classes, we need to assign them challenging tasks but make sure that they have the skills necessary to meet the challenges of those tasks."
Knight added: "With Rock Band, it's the same speed and the same notes no matter what your ability level is. We can control that and look at differences in performance in a more objective way."
The findings were published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology.