Tracking the train of thought from the laboratory into everyday life: An experience-sampling study of mind wandering across controlled and ecological contexts
In an experience-sampling study that bridged laboratory, ecological, and individual-differences approaches to mind-wandering research, 72 subjects completed an executive-control task with periodic thought probes (reported by McVay & Kane, 2009) and then carried PDAs for a week that signaled them eight times daily to report immediately whether their thoughts were off task. Subjects who reported more mind wandering during the laboratory task endorsed more mind-wandering experiences during everyday life (and were more likely to report worries as off-task thought content). We also conceptually replicated laboratory findings that mind wandering predicts task performance: Subjects rated their daily-life performance to be impaired when they reported off-task thoughts, with greatest impairment when subjects’ mind wandering lacked metaconsciousness. The propensity to mind wander appears to be a stable cognitive characteristic and seems to predict performance difficulties in daily life, just as it does in the laboratory
- Antrobus, J. S., Singer, J. L., & Greenberg, S. (1966). Studies in the stream of consciousness: Experimental enhancement and suppression of spontaneous cognitive processes. Perceptual & Motor Skills, 23, 399–417.
- Bar, M. (2007). The proactive brain: Using analogies and associations to generate predictions. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 11, 280–289. CrossRef
- Barrett, L. F., & Barrett, D. J. (2004). The Experience Sampling Program (Version 2.0) [Computer software]. Retrieved February 2004 from http://www2.bc.edu/_barretli/esp/.
- Buckner, R. L., & Carroll, D. C. (2007). Self-projection and the brain. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 11, 49–57. CrossRef
- Burgess, P. W., Dumontheil, I., & Gilbert, S. J. (2007). The gateway hypothesis of rostral prefrontal cortex (area 10) function. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 11, 290–298. CrossRef
- Cameron, P., & Giuntoli, D. (1972). Consciousness sampling in the college classroom or Is anybody listening? Intellect, 101, 63–64.
- Christoff, K., Gordon, A. M., Smallwood, J., Smith, R., & Schooler, J. W. (2009). Experience sampling during fMRI reveals default network and executive system contributions to mind wandering. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106, 8719–8724. CrossRef
- Engle, R. W., & Kane, M. J. (2004). Executive attention, working memory capacity, and a two-factor theory of cognitive control. In B. Ross (Ed.), The psychology of learning and motivation (pp. 145–199). New York: Academic Press.
- Geerligs, T. (1995). Students’ thoughts during problem-based smallgroup discussions. Instructional Science, 22, 269–278. CrossRef
- Giambra, L. M. (1995). A laboratory method for investigating influences on switching attention to task-unrelated imagery and thought. Consciousness & Cognition, 4, 1–21. CrossRef
- Grodsky, A., & Giambra, L. M. (1990/1991). The consistency across vigilance and reading tasks of individual differences in the occurrence of task-unrelated and task-related images and thoughts. Imagination, Cognition & Personality, 10, 39–52.
- Hurlburt, R. T. (1979). Random sampling of cognitions and behavior. Journal of Research in Personality, 13, 103–111. CrossRef
- Intel Corp. (2004). iESP [Computer software]. Retrieved April 2004 from http://seattleweb.intel-research.net/projects/ESM/iESP.html.
- Kane, M. J., Brown, L. E., McVay, J. C., Silvia, P. J., Myin-Germeys, I., & Kwapil, T. R. (2007). For whom the mind wanders, and when: An experience-sampling study of working memory and executive control in daily life. Psychological Science, 18, 614–621. CrossRef
- Klinger, E. (1971). Structure and functions of fantasy. New York: Wiley.
- Klinger, E. (1978/1979). Dimensions of thought and imagery in normal waking states. Journal of Altered States of Consciousness, 4, 97–113.
- Klinger, E. (1999). Thought flow: Properties and mechanisms underlying shifts in content. In J. A. Singer & P. Salovey (Eds.), At play in the fields of consciousness: Essays in honor of Jerome L. Singer (pp. 29–50). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
- Klinger, E., & Cox, W. M. (1987/1988). Dimensions of thought flow in everyday life. Imagination, Cognition & Personality, 7, 105–128.
- Mason, M. F., Norton, M. I., Van Horn, J. D., Wegner, D. M., Grafton, S. T., & Macrae, C. N. (2007). Wandering minds: The default network and stimulus-independent thought. Science, 315, 393–395. CrossRef
- McVay, J. C., & Kane, M. J. (2009). Conducting the train of thought: Working memory capacity, goal neglect, and mind wandering in an executive-control task. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 35, 196–204. CrossRef
- Morsella, E. (2005). The function of phenomenal states: Supramodular interaction theory. Psychological Review, 112, 1000–1021. CrossRef
- Nolen-Hoeksema, S., Wisco, B. E., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2008). Rethinking rumination. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3, 400–424. CrossRef
- Raudenbush, S. W., & Bryk, A. S. (2002). Hierarchical linear models: Applications and data analysis methods (2nd ed.). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
- Reason, J. T. (1990). Human error. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Robertson, I. H., Manly, T., Andrade, J., Baddeley, B. T., & Yiend, J. (1997). “Oops!”: Performance correlates of everyday attentional failures in traumatic brain injured and normal subjects. Neuropsychologia, 35, 747–758. CrossRef
- Rosenthal, D. M. (2008). Consciousness and its function. Neuropsychologia, 46, 829–840. CrossRef
- Sarason, I. G., Pierce, G. R., & Sarason, B. R. (1996). Cognitive interference: Theories, methods, and findings. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
- Schoen, J. R. (1970). Use of consciousness sampling to study teaching methods. Journal of Educational Research, 9, 387–390.
- Schooler, J. W. (2002). Re-representing consciousness: Dissociations between experience and meta-consciousness. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 6, 339–344. CrossRef
- Schooler, J. W., Reichle, E. D., & Halpern, D. V. (2004). Zoning out while reading: Evidence for dissociations between experience and metaconsciousness. In D. Levin (Ed.), Thinking and seeing: Visual metacognition in adults and children (pp. 203–226). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
- Singer, J. L. (1968). The importance of daydreaming. Psychology Today, 1, 18–27.
- Singer, J. L., & Singer, D. G. (2006). Preschoolers’ imaginative play as precursor of narrative consciousness. Imagination, Cognition & Personality, 25, 97–117. CrossRef
- Smallwood, J. M., Baracaia, S. F., Lowe, M., & Obonsawin, M. (2003). Task unrelated thought whilst encoding information. Consciousness & Cognition, 12, 452–484. CrossRef
- Smallwood, J., Beach, E., Schooler, J. W., & Handy, T. C. (2008). Going AWOL in the brain: Mind wandering reduces cortical analysis of external events. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 20, 458–469. CrossRef
- Smallwood, J., Davies, J. B., Heim, D., Finnigan, F., Sudberry, M., O’Connor, R., & Obonsawin, M. (2004). Subjective experience and the attentional lapse: Task engagement and disengagement during sustained attention. Consciousness & Cognition, 13, 657–690. CrossRef
- Smallwood, J., Fishman, D. J., & Schooler, J. W. (2007). Counting the cost of an absent mind: Mind wandering as an underrecognized influence on educational performance. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 14, 230–236. CrossRef
- Smallwood, J., Fitzgerald, A., Miles, L. K., & Phillips, L. H. (2009). Shifting moods, wandering minds: Negative moods lead the mind to wander. Emotion, 9, 271–276. CrossRef
- Smallwood, J., McSpadden, M., & Schooler, J. W. (2007). The lights are on but no one’s home: Meta-awareness and the decoupling of attention when the mind wanders. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 14, 527–533. CrossRef
- Smallwood, J., McSpadden, M., & Schooler, J. W. (2008). When attention matters: The curious incident of the wandering mind. Memory & Cognition, 36, 1144–1150. CrossRef
- Smallwood, J., O’Connor, R. C., Sudbery, M. V., & Obonsawin, M. (2007). Mind-wandering and dysphoria. Cognition & Emotion, 21, 816–842. CrossRef
- Smallwood, J., Riby, L., Heim, D., & Davies, J. B. (2006). Encoding during the attentional lapse: Accuracy of encoding during the semantic sustained attention to response task. Consciousness & Cognition, 15, 218–231. CrossRef
- Smallwood, J., & Schooler, J. W. (2006). The restless mind. Psychological Bulletin, 132, 946–958. CrossRef
- Teasdale, J. D., Proctor, L., Lloyd, C. A., & Baddeley, A. D. (1993). Working memory and stimulus-independent thought: Effects of memory load and presentation rate. European Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 5, 417–433. CrossRef
- Watkins, E. R. (2008). Constructive and unconstructive repetitive thought. Psychological Bulletin, 134, 163–206. CrossRef
- Wegner, D. M. (2002). The illusion of conscious will. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
- Wiegmann, D. A., Shappell, S. A., Boquet, A., Detwiler, C., Holcomb, K., & Faaborg, T. (2005). Human error and general aviation accidents: A comprehensive, fine-grained analysis using HFACS (Final Tech. Rep.). Washington, DC: Federal Aviation Administration.
- Tracking the train of thought from the laboratory into everyday life: An experience-sampling study of mind wandering across controlled and ecological contexts
Psychonomic Bulletin & Review
Volume 16, Issue 5 , pp 857-863
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Additional Links