On the Clock: Evidence for the Rapid and Strategic Modulation of Mind Wandering.
We examined the hypothesis that people can modulate their mind wandering on the basis of their expectations of upcoming challenges in a task. To this end, we developed a novel paradigm in which participants were presented with an analog clock, via a computer monitor, and asked to push a button every time the clock's hand was pointed at 12:00. Importantly, the time at which the clock's hand was pointed at 12:00 was completely predictable and occurred at 20-s intervals. During some of the 20-s intervals, we presented thought probes to index participants' rates of mind wandering. Results indicated that participants decreased their levels of mind wandering as they approached the predictable upcoming target. Critically, these results suggest that people can and do modulate their mind wandering in anticipation of changes in task demands.
Seli, P; Carriere, JSA; Wammes, JD; Risko, EF; Schacter, DL; Smilek, D
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