Title of Project

Are some thoughts “stickier” than others? Examining emotionally valenced mind wandering

Project Type

Event

Start Date

6-4-2018 12:00 AM

End Date

6-4-2018 12:00 AM

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Apr 6th, 12:00 AM Apr 6th, 12:00 AM

Are some thoughts “stickier” than others? Examining emotionally valenced mind wandering

Mind wandering is when our thoughts drift away from the current task. These task unrelated thoughts (TUTs) may consume up to 50% of our waking hours (Killingsworth & Gilbert, 2010). The occurrence of TUTs results in poorer cognitive functioning and performance (Banks & Boals, 2016). However, the consequences of mind wandering are moderated by the emotional valence of the TUT, such that negatively valenced TUTs, but not positively valenced TUTs, predict poorer cognitive performance (Banks, Welhaf, Hood, Boals, & Tartar, 2016). One possible reason for the impact of negative TUTs isthat they are “stickier” than positively valenced TUTs. A cyclical relationship appears to exist betweennegatively valenced mind wandering and mood. Negatively valenced mind wandering predicts future negative mood and negative mood predicts subsequent negatively valenced mind wandering (Poerio, Totterdell, & Miles, 2013). In the current investigation, we examined whether the impact of emotionally valenced TUTs was due to the duration of the mind wandering episode. A mediation analysis examined whether duration of a mind wandering episodes mediated the relationship between TUTs and sustained attention task performance (SART). The impact of negatively valenced TUTs on SART performance occurred through a direct effect, 95% CI [-.58, -.14], and a significant indirect effect-- mediated by duration of mind wandering episodes, 95% CI [-.19, -.02]. However, no direct or indirect relationship between positive TUTs and SART performance was observed. These findings suggests that negativeTUTs are “stickier” and therefore have a greater negative effect on task performance.