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Intentional mind wandering is objectively linked to low effort and tasks with high predictability.

Peral-Fuster, C. I., Herold, R. S., Alder, O., Elkelani, O., Ribeiro-Ali, S. I., Deane, E. M., Martindale, A. P. L., Qi, Z., Westling, C. and Witchel, H. J., 2023. Intentional mind wandering is objectively linked to low effort and tasks with high predictability. In: ECCE 2023, 20-22 September 2023, Swansea.

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BACKGROUND: Intentional Mind Wandering (IMW) is proposed to be a low executive control state in response to boredom, to distinguish it from unintentional mind wandering (UMW), which may be a low arousal state in response to exhaustion of resources. AIMS: To demonstrate that the objective differences between IMW and UMW reflect the subjective difference that IMW is linked to a low effort and high predictability strategy. METHODS: The metronome response task (MRT) requires participants to predict when the next tone in a regular series will occur. Inter-Trial Interval (ITI) variants of the MRT were presented in blocks of ∼ 90 seconds. RESULTS: The most predictable version of MRT resulted in the percentage of reported IMW doubling, whereas UMW remained similar in all three versions of the MRT. IMW necessitates subjective effort to be low (capped at 5 on a 1-9 scale). IMW in easy and predictable versions of the task resulted in normal performance, whereas IMW during difficult tasks that required sustained attention led to poor performance and occasional errors. IMW during the least predictable MRT led to a significantly higher rate of omission errors (compared to on-task or UMW), and also to a higher maximum-in-block reaction time, as predicted by the worst performance rule. Conscientiousness was linked to reduced IMW (but not reduced UMW), higher on-task probes, increased effort, and improved prediction accuracy. CONCLUSIONS: Subjective assessment of task difficulty predisposes IMW, with transient increases of both omission errors and slow lapses due to diminished allocation of cognitive resources.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Group:Faculty of Media & Communication
ID Code:39060
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:26 Jan 2024 15:36
Last Modified:29 Jan 2024 09:42


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