Compliant activity rather than difficulty accelerates thought probe responsiveness and inhibits deliberate mind wandering

Subhani, Benjamin R, Amos-Oluwole, Oluwademilade I, Claxton, Harry L, Holmes, Daisy C, Westling, Carina E I and Witchel, Harry J (2019) Compliant activity rather than difficulty accelerates thought probe responsiveness and inhibits deliberate mind wandering. Behaviour and Information Technology, 38 (10). pp. 1048-1059. ISSN 0144-929X

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Mind wandering is a commonly intruding cognitive state that leads to diminished performance and increased error risk during a primary task. A controversy over whether easier or more difficult tasks increase mind wandering has led to mind wandering being proposed as two different states: deliberate and spontaneous. We hypothesise that forced engagement via persistent compliant activity may both increase responsiveness and inhibit non-instrumental activities including deliberate mind wandering. Twenty-eight healthy adults interacted with 2 pairs of stimuli, each pair having one low-interactivity version and a high-interactivity version requiring compliant activity. Mind wandering was assessed by thought probes, and subjective responses were rated using visual analogue scales. Reaction times were measured using Superlab. Compliant activity decreased the prevalence of deliberate mind wandering episodes but not of overall mind wandering. Thought probe durations were accelerated significantly by compliant activity, near-significantly by thinking on-task thoughts, and additively by the combination of both. Deliberate and spontaneous mind wandering elicited equivalent thought probe durations. We conclude that compliant activity works synergistically with lack of mind wandering to accelerate the difficult task of thought probe response but not simple reaction times. These results fit with an arousal model but not the attentional resources model.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: Brighton and Sussex Medical School > Neuroscience
School of Media, Film and Music > Media and Film
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF0311 Consciousness. Cognition
Depositing User: Tyrone Knight
Date Deposited: 16 Jan 2020 15:06
Last Modified: 17 May 2021 14:00

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