Faculty Articles

Individual Differences in Dimensions of Mind Wandering: The Mediating Role of Emotional Valence and Intentionality

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Psychological Research




Individual differences in executive control ability reliably show that those with greater executive control report fewer instances of mind wandering during moderately demanding tasks. However, these findings have been limited in that they often treated mind wandering as a variable that collapsed across a variety of thought categories or dimensions. We suggest that two dimensions of mind wandering, intentionality and emotional valence, may be differential related to individual difference in executive control ability. The present study examined this using multiple measures of working memory capacity and attentional control while measuring emotional valence and intentionality of mind wandering during a single sustained attention task. Non-cognitive predictors of mind wandering were also measured. Overall, the results suggest that both working memory capacity and attention control are significant predictors of mind wandering propensity, replicating previous findings. However, the dimensions of emotional valence and intentionality suggested that this finding was not consistent across all types of thought reports. The current findings provide support for the view that it is critical to consider these two dimensions, among other important dimensions, of mind wandering to have a more complete understanding of individual differences in mind wandering.



PubMed ID


Peer Reviewed

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