NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1073898
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Sep
Pages: 9
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0278-7393
Motivation, Intentionality, and Mind Wandering: Implications for Assessments of Task-Unrelated Thought
Seli, Paul; Cheyne, James Allan; Xu, Mengran; Purdon, Christine; Smilek, Daniel
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v41 n5 p1417-1425 Sep 2015
Researchers of mind wandering frequently assume that (a) participants are motivated to do well on the tasks they are given, and (b) task-unrelated thoughts (TUTs) that occur during task performance reflect unintentional, unwanted thoughts that occur despite participants' best intentions to maintain task-focus. Given the relatively boring and tedious nature of most mind-wandering tasks, however, there is the possibility that some participants have little motivation to do well on such tasks, and that this lack of motivation might in turn result in increases specifically in "intentional" TUTs. In the present study, we explored these possibilities, finding that individuals reporting lower motivation to perform well on a sustained-attention task reported more intentional relative to unintentional TUTs compared with individuals reporting higher motivation. Interestingly, our results indicate that the extent to which participants engage in intentional versus unintentional TUTs does not differentially relate to performance: both types of off-task thought were found to be equally associated with performance decrements. Participants with low levels of task-motivation also engaged in more overall TUTs, however, and this increase in TUTs was associated with greater performance decrements. We discuss these findings in the context of the literature on mind wandering, highlighting the importance of assessing the intentionality of TUTs and motivation to perform well on tasks assessing mind wandering.
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A