Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 754–760 | Cite as

Are you mind-wandering, or is your mind on task? The effect of probe framing on mind-wandering reports

  • Yana Weinstein
  • Henry J. De Lima
  • Tim van der Zee
Brief Report

Abstract

The last decade has seen a dramatic rise in the number of studies that utilize the probe-caught method of collecting mind-wandering reports. This method involves stopping participants during a task, presenting them with a thought probe, and asking them to choose the appropriate report option to describe their thought-state. In this experiment we manipulated the framing of this probe, and demonstrated a substantial difference in mind-wandering reports as a function of whether the probe was presented in a mind-wandering frame compared with an on-task frame. This framing effect has implications both for interpretations of existing data and for methodological choices made by researchers who use the probe-caught mind-wandering paradigm.

Keywords

Mind-wandering Task-unrelated thoughts Framing Response bias 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Fabian Weinstein-Jones created the Excel Macro to match mind-wandering data to test scores and demographics. Sowmya Guthikonda adapted the Turning Technology java-based API to collect mind-wandering responses. This project was funded by a University of Massachusetts Lowell internal Seed Grant. H.J. De L. was funded by the University of Massachusetts Lowell Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Emerging Scholars program, and T. v.d. Z. was funded by the Leids Universiteits Fonds. We thank James Farley for extensive and helpful reviewer comments.

Supplementary material

13423_2017_1322_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (100 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 100 kb)

References

  1. Bloom, P. (2016). The reason our minds wander. The Atlantic. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/03/imagination-as-proxy/474918/
  2. Callard, F., Smallwood, J., Golchert, J., & Margulies, D. S. (2013). The era of the wandering mind? Twenty-first century research on self-generated mental activity. Frontiers in Psychology, 4.Google Scholar
  3. Feng, S., D’Mello, S., & Graesser, A. C. (2013). Mind wandering while reading easy and difficult texts. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 20, 586–592.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Forster, S., & Lavie, N. (2009). Harnessing the wandering mind: The role of perceptual load. Cognition, 111, 345–355.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  5. Frank, D. J., Nara, B., Zavagnin, M., Touron, D. R., & Kane, M. J. (2015). Validating older adults’ reports of less mind-wandering: An examination of eye movements and dispositional influences. Psychology and Aging, 30, 266–278.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Killingsworth, M. A., & Gilbert, D. T. (2010). A wandering mind is an unhappy mind. Science, 330, 932.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Krosnick, J. A. (1991). Response strategies for coping with the cognitive demands of attitude measures in surveys. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 5, 213–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Morrison, A. B., Goolsarran, M., Rogers, S. L., & Jha, A. P. (2013). Taming a wandering attention: Short-form mindfulness training in student cohorts. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7. Google Scholar
  9. Ottaviani, C., Shahabi, L., Tarvainen, M., Cook, I., Abrams, M., & Shapiro, D. (2015). Cognitive, behavioral, and autonomic correlates of mind wandering and perseverative cognition in major depression. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 8. Google Scholar
  10. Risko, E. F., Anderson, N., Sarwal, A., Engelhardt, M., & Kingstone, A. (2012). Everyday attention: Variation in mind wandering and memory in a lecture. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 26, 234–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Risko, E. F., Buchanan, D., Medimorec, S., & Kingstone, A. (2013). Everyday attention: Mind wandering and computer use during lectures. Computers & Education, 68, 275–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Seli, P., Carriere, J. S., Levene, M., & Smilek, D. (2013). How few and far between? Examining the effects of probe rate on self-reported mind wandering. Frontiers in Psychology, 4. Google Scholar
  13. Seli, P., Jonker, T. R., Cheyne, J. A., Cortes, K., & Smilek, D. (2015). Can research participants comment authoritatively on the validity of their self-reports of mind wandering and task engagement? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 41, 703–709.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Smallwood, J., & Schooler, J. W. (2006). The restless mind. Psychological Bulletin, 132, 946–958.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1981). The framing of decisions and the psychology of choice. Science, 211, 453–458.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Vinski, M. T., & Watter, S. (2012). Priming honesty reduces subjective bias in self-report measures of mind wandering. Consciousness and Cognition, 21, 451–455.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Weinstein, Y. (in press). Mind-wandering, how do I measure thee? Let me count the ways. Behavior Research Methods. Google Scholar
  18. Weinstein, Y., & Wilford, M. M. (2016, November). Mind-Wandering and Flow: Are They Two Sides of the Same Coin? Talk presented at the 28th annual meeting of the Psychonomic Society, Boston, MA.Google Scholar
  19. Zedelius, C. M., Broadway, J. M., & Schooler, J. W. (2015). Motivating meta-awareness of mind wandering: A way to catch the mind in flight? Consciousness and Cognition, 36, 44–53.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yana Weinstein
    • 1
  • Henry J. De Lima
    • 1
    • 2
  • Tim van der Zee
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Massachusetts LowellLowellUSA
  2. 2.Graduate School of Social WorkBoston CollegeBostonUSA
  3. 3.Graduate School of TeachingLeiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations