Psychological Research

, Volume 81, Issue 2, pp 392–398 | Cite as

Intrusive thoughts: linking spontaneous mind wandering and OCD symptomatology

  • Paul SeliEmail author
  • Evan F. Risko
  • Christine Purdon
  • Daniel Smilek
Original Article


One recent line of research in the literature on mind wandering has been concerned with examining rates of mind wandering in special populations, such as those characterized by attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, dysphoria, and schizophrenia. To best conceptualize mind wandering in studies examining special populations, it has recently been suggested that researchers distinguish between deliberate and spontaneous subtypes of this experience. Extending this line of research on mind wandering in special populations, in a large non-clinical sample (N = 2636), we examined how rates of deliberate and spontaneous mind wandering vary with symptoms of obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD). Results indicate that, whereas deliberate mind wandering is not associated with OCD symptomatology, spontaneous mind wandering is, with higher reports of spontaneous mind wandering being associated with higher reports of OCD symptoms. We discuss the implications of these results for understanding both mind wandering and OCD.


Intrusive Thought Trait Level Undergraduate Psychology Student Focal Task Vigilance Decrement 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research was supported by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) discovery Grant to DS and EFR, funding from the Canada Research Chairs program for EFR, and an NSERC Post-Doctoral Fellowship to PS.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Seli
    • 1
    Email author
  • Evan F. Risko
    • 2
  • Christine Purdon
    • 2
  • Daniel Smilek
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychology, William James HallHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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