David Melnikoff

Assistant Professor, Organizational Behavior

David Melnikoff

Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior

Academic Area:

Research Statement

David Melnikoff investigates how people pursue and achieve their goals. His primary focus is the phenomenon of flow, where goal pursuit feels deeply immersive and effortlessly engaging, resulting in optimal performance and well-being. David’s approach is multidisciplinary. Using tools from psychology, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, he develops mathematical models that illuminate the inner workings of flow and reveal actionable strategies for optimizing flow in daily life.

Research Interests

  • Flow
  • Motivation
  • Goal Pursuit
  • Computational Modeling


Professor Melnikoff holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Drexel University and a PhD in psychology from Yale University. After earning his doctorate, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Northeastern University. His work has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Nature Human Behaviour, Nature Communications, and Trends in Cognitive Sciences.

Academic Degrees

  • PhD in Psychology, Yale University, 2019
  • BA in Psychology, Drexel University, 2010

Awards and Honors

  • Individual National Research Service Awards (NRSA), National Institute of Health, 2021
  • Dissertation Award, Society of Experimental Social Psychology, 2020
  • James B. Grossman Dissertation Prize, Yale University, 2019


Journal Articles

David Melnikoff, Nina Strohminger
Nature Human Behaviour
February 2024
David Melnikoff, Ryan W. Carlson, Paul E. Stillman
Nature Communications
April 2022 Vol. 13
David Melnikoff, Nina Strohminger
Nature Human Behaviour
September 2020 Vol. 4 Pages 1258–1264
David Melnikoff, John A. Bargh
Trends in Cognitive Sciences
April 2018 Vol. 22 Issue 4 Pages 280–293
David Melnikoff, April H. Bailey
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
January 2018 Vol. 115 Issue 4 Pages E592–E600

Insights by Stanford Business

December 12, 2023
’Tis the season for personal and professional growth.
November 15, 2023
New research uncovers the “magic combination” of factors that make it easier to achieve a flow state.