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Gepubliceerd in: Psychological Research 7/2021

15-09-2020 | Original Article

Dissociating the freely-moving thought dimension of mind-wandering from the intentionality and task-unrelated thought dimensions

Auteurs: Kevin O’Neill, Anna P. Smith, Daniel Smilek, Paul Seli

Gepubliceerd in: Psychological Research | Uitgave 7/2021

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Abstract

The recently forwarded family-resemblances framework of mind-wandering argues that mind-wandering is a multidimensional construct consisting of a variety of exemplars. On this view, membership in the mind-wandering family is graded along various dimensions that define more or less prototypical instances of mind-wandering. In recent work, three dimensions that have played a prominent role in defining prototypicality within the mind-wandering family include: (a) task-relatedness (i.e., how related the content of a thought is to an ongoing task), (b) intentionality (i.e., whether thought is deliberately or spontaneously engaged), and (c) thought constraint (i.e., how much attention constrains thought dynamics). One concern, however, is that these dimensions may be redundant with each other. The utility of distinguishing among these different dimensions of mind-wandering rests upon a demonstration that they are dissociable. To shed light on this issue, we indexed the task-relatedness, intentionality, and constraint dimensions of thought during the completion of a laboratory task to evaluate how these dimensions relate to each other. We found that 56% of unconstrained thoughts were “on-task” and that 23% of constrained thoughts were “off-task.” Moreover, we found that rates of off-task thought, but not “freely-moving” (i.e., unconstrained) thought, varied as a function of expected changes in task demands, confirming that task-relatedness and thought constraint are separable dimensions. Participants also reported 21% of intentional off-task thoughts that were freely moving and 9% of unintentional off-task thoughts that were constrained. Finally, off-task thoughts were more likely to be freely-moving than unintentional. Taken together, the results suggest that these three dimensions of mind-wandering are not redundant with one another.
Voetnoten
1
As in Seli et al. (2018a, b, c), motivation probes were included for exploratory purposes. These probes asked participants to respond to the prompt “How motivated would you say you are to press the spacebar.
as soon as the hand reaches the 12 o'clock position?” on an analog scale from “Not at all motivated” to “Extremely motivated.”
 
2
Post-completion motivation probes were included for exploratory purposes.
 
3
As noted in Seli et al. (2018a, b, c), Christoff et al.’s (2018) argument is imprecise insofar as they argue that any thoughts that are “relatively unconstrained” qualify as mind-wandering. The problem, as highlighted by Seli, Kane, Metzinger, et al., is that it is not clear what is meant by “relatively unconstrained” and, hence, it is not clear how Christoff et al.’s framework would meet their own stipulation that mind-wandering must be made separable from other types of thought.
 
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Metagegevens
Titel
Dissociating the freely-moving thought dimension of mind-wandering from the intentionality and task-unrelated thought dimensions
Auteurs
Kevin O’Neill
Anna P. Smith
Daniel Smilek
Paul Seli
Publicatiedatum
15-09-2020
Uitgeverij
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Gepubliceerd in
Psychological Research / Uitgave 7/2021
Print ISSN: 0340-0727
Elektronisch ISSN: 1430-2772
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-020-01419-9

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