Mind-wandering across the age gap: Age-related differences in mind-wandering are partially attributable to age-related differences in motivation.


Journal Article

OBJECTIVES:A common finding in the mind-wandering literature is that older adults (OAs) tend to mind-wander less frequently than young adults (YAs). Here, we sought to determine whether this age-related difference in mind-wandering is attributable to age-related differences in motivation. METHOD:YAs and OAs completed an attention task during which they responded to thought probes that assessed rates of mind-wandering, and they provided self-reports of task-based motivation before and after completion of the attention task. RESULTS:Age-related differences in mind-wandering are partially explained by differences in motivation, and that motivating young adults via incentive diminishes mind-wandering differences across these groups. DISCUSSION:We consider these results in the context of theories on age-related differences in mind wandering, with a specific focus on their relevance to the recently proposed motivational account of such age-related differences.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Seli, P; O'Neill, K; Carriere, JSA; Smilek, D; Beaty, RE; Schacter, DL

Published Date

  • February 28, 2020

Published In

PubMed ID

  • 32107558

Pubmed Central ID

  • 32107558

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1758-5368

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1079-5014

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/geronb/gbaa031


  • eng