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ERIC Number: EJ1165866
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2018-Jan
Pages: 14
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0278-7393
Cognitive and Contextual Correlates of Spontaneous and Deliberate Mind-Wandering
Robison, Matthew K.; Unsworth, Nash
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v44 n1 p85-98 Jan 2018
Individuals with greater cognitive abilities generally show reduced rates of mind-wandering when completing relatively demanding tasks (Randall, Oswald, & Beier, 2014). However, it is yet unclear whether elevated rates of mind-wandering among low-ability individuals are manifestations of deliberate, intentional episodes of mind-wandering because of task disengagement or lack of motivation, or to spontaneous, unintentional failures to maintain task-oriented attention. The present study examined this issue by measuring working memory capacity (WMC), mind-wandering during 3 relatively demanding attention control tasks, and contextual variables (e.g., motivation, alertness, perceptions of task unpleasantness). Results indicated that the relationship between WMC and mind-wandering was primarily driven by spontaneous episodes. Lack of alertness also uniquely predicted more frequent spontaneous mind-wandering independently of WMC. Deliberate mind-wandering was primarily driven by a lack of motivation. Thus, cognitive and contextual factors can have distinct relationships with spontaneous and deliberate 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
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF); Office of Naval Research (ONR)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Oregon
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Stroop Color Word Test
Grant or Contract Numbers: 1632327; N000141512790