Mind Wandering, Motivation, and Task Performance Over Time: Evidence That Motivation Insulates People From the Negative Effects of Mind Wandering

Journal Article (Journal Article)

In the current study, we examined whether participant motivation was associated with fluctuations of attentional engagement and performance over time. We gauged participants' motivation and depth of mind wandering as they completed the metronome response task to determine whether fluctuations in inattention (indexed by task performance and depth of mind wandering) would be related to fluctuations in motivation. As in prior work, we found that, with increasing time on task, (a) self-reported depth of mind wandering increased, (b) task performance decreased, and (c) motivation waned. Extending this work, we found an interaction between motivation and mind wandering such that mind wandering was negatively associated with task performance when motivation was low, but unrelated to performance when motivation was high. These results suggest that motivation may help improve task performance by reducing the depth of mind wandering, while also providing insulation from the negative effects of mind wandering, when it does occur.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Brosowsky, NP; DeGutis, J; Esterman, M; Smilek, D; Seli, P

Published Date

  • January 1, 2020

Published In

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2326-5531

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2326-5523

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1037/cns0000263

Citation Source

  • Scopus