The contribution of latent factors of executive functioning to mind wandering: An experience sampling study

Marcusson-Clavertz, David; Persson, Stefan D.; Cardeña, Etzel; Terhune, Devin Blair; Gort, Cassandra and Kuehner, Cnristine. 2022. The contribution of latent factors of executive functioning to mind wandering: An experience sampling study. Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, 7, 34. ISSN 2365-7464 [Article]

[img] Text
Marcusson-Clavertz et al. in press CRPI.pdf - Accepted Version
Permissions: Administrator Access Only
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (2MB)
s41235-022-00383-9.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (1MB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

Accumulating evidence suggests that individuals with greater executive resources spend less time mind wandering. Independent strands of research further suggest that this association depends on concentration and a guilty-dysphoric daydreaming style. However, it remains unclear whether this association is specific to particular features of executive functioning or certain operationalizations of mind wandering, including task-unrelated thoughts (TUTs, comprising external distractions and mind wandering) and stimulusindependent and task-unrelated thoughts (SITUTs, comprising mind wandering only). This study sought to clarify these associations by using confirmatory factor analysis to compute latent scores for distinct executive functioning based on nine cognitive tasks and relating them to experience sampling reports of mind wandering. We expected that individuals with greater executive control (specifically updating) would show a stronger reduction in SITUTs as momentary concentration and guilty-dysphoric style increase. A bifactor model of the cognitive battery indicated a general factor (common executive function) and ancillary factors (updating and shifting). A significant interaction between updating and concentration on mind wandering was observed with mind wandering defined as TUTs, but not as SITUTs (N = 187). A post-hoc analysis clarified this discrepancy by showing that as concentration increases, both external distractions and mind wandering decrease more strongly among people with greater updating. Moreover, common executive function predicted a more negative slope of guilty-dysphoric style on SITUTs, whereas updating and shifting predicted more positive slopes. The opposite slopes of these executive functions on daily life mind wandering may reflect a stability-flexibility trade-off between goal maintenance and goal replacement abilities.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):

Additional Information:

Open access funding provided by Linnaeus University. This work was supported through a research grant from the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet;; project number 2016-00337). The Mannheim study was supported through a grant from the German Research Foundation (DFG KU1464/8-1).

The online version of the article contains supplementary material available at


mind wandering, shifting, updating, inhibiting, task-switching, concentration, guilt/fear-of-failure daydreaming, working memory capacity, ecological momentary assessments (EMA), experience sampling method (ESM)

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



25 March 2022Accepted
25 April 2022Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

28 Mar 2022 09:45

Last Modified:

28 Apr 2022 17:05

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)