Increasing participant motivation reduces rates of intentional and unintentional mind wandering.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

We explored the possibility that increasing participants' motivation to perform well on a focal task can reduce mind wandering. Participants completed a sustained-attention task either with standard instructions (normal motivation), or with instructions informing them that they could be excused from the experiment early if they achieved a certain level of performance (higher motivation). Throughout the task, we assessed rates of mind wandering (both intentional and unintentional types) via thought probes. Results showed that the motivation manipulation led to significant reductions in both intentional and unintentional mind wandering as well as improvements in task performance. Most critically, we found that our simple motivation manipulation led to a dramatic reduction in probe-caught mind-wandering rates (49%) compared to a control condition (67%), which suggests the utility of motivation-based methods to reduce people's propensity to mind-wander.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Seli, P; Schacter, DL; Risko, EF; Smilek, D

Published Date

  • July 2019

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 83 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 1057 - 1069

PubMed ID

  • 28918525

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1430-2772

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0340-0727

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s00426-017-0914-2


  • eng