Fixation, flexibility, and creativity: The dynamics of mind wandering.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

The mind-wandering literature is long on results and short on theory. One notable exception is the Dynamic Framework, a theoretical framework that characterizes mind wandering as thoughts that are relatively unconstrained from deliberate and automatic sources, or "freely moving." Critically, this framework makes numerous testable predictions, including (a) a positive association between freely moving thought and ADHD, (b) negative associations between freely moving thought and depression, anxiety, and OCD, and (c) a positive association between freely moving thought and divergent thinking ability. In Study 1, to test these predictions, we measured participants' reports of freely moving thoughts during a cognitive task and assessed divergent thinking and various psychopathological symptoms. Results failed to support any of the Dynamic Framework's predictions. In Study 2, we assessed the predicted relations between freely moving thought and divergent-thinking performance by manipulating thought constraint during a creative-incubation interval that preceded a divergent-thinking task. Here, we found some evidence (albeit very weak) to support the Dynamic Framework's prediction. Finally, in Study 3, we examined the possibility that indexing freely moving thought during a divergent-thinking task would yield the predicted associations but failed to find support for these associations. These results, most of which are at odds with the predictions of the Dynamic Framework, suggest either the need to revise the framework and/or that current methods are inadequate to properly test these predictions. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Smith, AP; Brosowsky, N; Murray, S; Daniel, R; Meier, ME; Seli, P

Published Date

  • July 2022

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 48 / 7

Start / End Page

  • 689 - 710

PubMed ID

  • 35587437

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1939-1277

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0096-1523

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1037/xhp0001012


  • eng