Daydreaming style moderates the relation between working memory and mind wandering: Integrating two hypotheses.

Marcusson-Clavertz, David; Cardeña, Etzel and Terhune, Devin Blair. 2016. Daydreaming style moderates the relation between working memory and mind wandering: Integrating two hypotheses. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 42(3), pp. 451-464. ISSN 0278-7393 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Mind wandering—mentation unrelated to one’s current activity and surroundings—is a ubiquitous phenomenon, but seemingly competing ideas have been proposed regarding its relation to executive cognitive processes. The control-failure hypothesis postulates that executive processes prevent mind wandering, whereas the global availability hypothesis proposes that mind wandering requires executive resources, and thus an excess of such resources enables mind wandering. Here, we examined whether these hypotheses could be reconciled by considering the moderating influence of daydreaming style. We expected that executive resources would be positively related to mind wandering in those who typically experience positive mind wandering mentation, but negatively related in those who typically experience negative mentation. One hundred eleven participants reported mind wandering over 4 days using experience sampling and completed the sustained attention to response task (SART), the symmetry span task, and the Stroop task. There was a significant interaction between working memory and negative, but not positive, daydreaming style on mind wandering: Working memory related positively to mind wandering in those with a low negative style, but negatively in those with a high negative style. In contrast, poor Stroop performance significantly predicted increased mind wandering, but only in those with a low positive style. SART responses did not predict mind wandering although the relation was suggestively enhanced as the difficulty of daily life activities increased, indicating that the SART is more generalizable to high-demanding than low-demanding activities. These results suggest that the content and context of mind wandering episodes play important roles in the relation between executive processes and mind wandering.

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Psychology > Timing, Awareness, and Suggestion Lab


March 2016Published

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Date Deposited:

03 May 2016 10:22

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:17

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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