Explaining Mind Wandering Reports

James Farley
Mind wandering refers to a reallocation of attentional resources away from what has been explicitly identified as the primary task towards some other point of focus. Experimental work investigating mind wandering relies extensively on self-report as the primary means of measuring mental state (e.g. to what extent one is focussed on a given task). However, little is known about how mind wandering reports are formed. The assumption is that participants can simply report whether or not they are
more » ... or not they are experiencing mind wandering when probed, though various lines of evidence suggest this may be an oversimplification. This dissertation advances a basic theoretical framework to explain how mind wandering reports are formed. The results of Experiment 1 supported the hypothesis that mind wandering reports are shaped by perception of performance. Experiment 2 demonstrated a biasing effect on reports of the framing of the concept of mind wandering in the initial experimental instructions. Experiment 3 revealed various individual differences in what information participants reported considering while forming reports, as well as some implied differences in cognitive control. Taken together, these results support a model in which participants consider various sources of information to guide the construction of mind wandering reports. Implications for the use of reports as a means to measure mind wandering are discussed. Additional implication for various theoretical constructs relevant to mind wandering are also discussed. These include working memory, meta-awareness, and mindfulness. A research program of sorts is also outlined to enhance the basic framework presented here, with productive future directions, including several novel hypotheses and relevant predictions.
doi:10.7939/r3-jccz-0x88 fatcat:vzrqkrnf6ndpfg3pcbxjgrob7e