Can research participants comment authoritatively on the validity of their self-reports of mind wandering and task engagement?


Journal Article

The study of mind wandering rests upon the assumption that people are able to consistently and accurately introspect and report on these sorts of mental experiences. Although there is some initial evidence that people can indeed accurately report on the subjective experience of mind wandering, to date, no work has directly examined people's degree of confidence in their self-reports of mind wandering and the effects that confidence has on the accuracy of such reports. In the present study, participants completed a sustained-attention task during which they intermittently provided assessments of task engagement (i.e., whether they were focused on the task or mind wandering), as well as reports of confidence in the accuracy of their assessments. This study yielded 3 key findings: We found substantial between- and within-subject variability in both (a) reported mind wandering and (b) confidence in mind-wandering reports, and, most critically, (c) we found that the relation of reported mind wandering and task performance varied as a function of confidence. We discuss the implications of these findings in the context of the literature on mind wandering.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Seli, P; Jonker, TR; Cheyne, JA; Cortes, K; Smilek, D

Published Date

  • June 2015

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 41 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 703 - 709

PubMed ID

  • 25665082

Pubmed Central ID

  • 25665082

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1939-1277

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0096-1523

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1037/xhp0000029


  • eng