, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 433–443 | Cite as

The Effects of a Mindful Listening Task on Mind-Wandering

  • Orion TarabanEmail author
  • Frederick Heide
  • Marjorie Woollacott
  • Davina Chan


Mind-wandering has been linked to reductions in mood as well as performance decrements on a variety of tasks, including reading comprehension. The present study sought to evaluate whether the attention training technique (ATT) could induce an elevated state of mindful awareness capable of moderating the negative affective and behavioral consequences of mind-wandering in a nonclinical sample. Participants randomly assigned to receive the ATT (n = 21) reported significantly more mindful state awareness and more positive mood from preinduction to postinduction relative to those assigned to an active placebo (n = 22). Furthermore, participants who received the ATT exhibited substantially fewer instances of off-task thinking measured covertly during a word-by-word text progression task than did those who received the placebo. These findings collectively represent the first empirical validation of the ATT as a mindfulness inductor and attest to its capacity to effect meaningful reductions in mind-wandering frequencies and significant elevations in mood after only a single application. Implications of these results for current theory and clinical practice are discussed.


Mind-wandering Mindfulness Attention training technique (ATT) Reading comprehension 



The authors are greatly indebted to Dr. Michael Franklin at the University of California, Santa Barbara and Dr. Adrian Wells at the University of Manchester. Without their gracious permission to use the mind-wandering algorithm and the attention training technique, respectively, this study could not have been realized. Their contributions were indispensable and appreciated. The authors would also like to express their gratitude for Wayne Manselle, Research Assistant at the University of Oregon, whose diligence and conscientiousness were essential to the execution of the experiment. Finally, the authors would like to recognize the support and guidance of Dr. Danny Wedding at the American University of Antigua, who served on the committee of the first author’s dissertation from which the present article was largely distilled. His encouragement and expertise were invaluable at all stages of the editorial process.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Orion Taraban
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Frederick Heide
    • 1
  • Marjorie Woollacott
    • 3
  • Davina Chan
    • 4
  1. 1.California School of Professional PsychologyAlliant International UniversitySan FranciscoUSA
  2. 2.San FranciscoUSA
  3. 3.Department of Human Physiology and Institute of NeuroscienceUniversity of OregonEugeneUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA

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