Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches and Lectures

Life Stress and Mind Wandering: The Role of Event Recency and Level of Processing

Date Range

2021-11-04 to 2021-11-07

Event Location / Date(s)


Presentation Date


Document Type



– Mind wandering mediates the impact of prior life stress on working memory task performance (Banks & Boals, 2016). Prior life stress may not impact working memory if mind wandering does not occur during the task (Goller, Banks, & Meier, 2020). Negatively valenced mind wandering may be important in this relationship due to their impact on task performance (Banks, Welhaf, Hood, Boals, & Tartar, 2016).The current study examined the relationship between negatively valenced mind wandering and several dimensions of a prior life stressor, including recency of the event, level of closure, and level of processing. The results demonstrated that ratings of recent negative life events (e.g., within 6 months) that were processed in a concrete style, but not negative life events overall, predicted rates of negatively valenced mind wandering after controlling for working memory capacity and tendency to suppress thoughts. These results suggest that not all prior life stress predicts mind wandering.