Mind-wandering contents and characteristics: an exploratory study comparing between work and non-work contexts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Mind-wandering, where thoughts drift away from the immediate environment or task to self-generated thoughts, is a common human experience. Despite the growing research on its antecedents and consequences, the content and characteristics of mind-wandering across different contexts, such as work-related and non-work-related settings, remain poorly understood. This study, guided by the Context and Content Regulation Hypothesis, explores the nuances of mind-wandering by examining both its content and characteristics, such as deliberateness and temporal orientation. Over five working days, we prompted 131 workers three times daily to report the content and characteristics of their current thoughts. Our findings indicate that mind-wandering occurred less frequently during work but was predominantly populated with work-related content, regardless of the ongoing activity. Furthermore, while most mind-wandering events were future-oriented and spontaneous, those centred on work exhibited a more deliberate and pronounced future bias. Challenging the prevailing notion of mind-wandering as a mere distraction, our findings align with the Context and Content Regulation Hypothesis, emphasizing its strategic role in foreseeing and preparing for future work-related events.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Mar 2024

Keywords

  • Mind-wandering
  • daydreaming
  • experience sampling
  • thought characteristics
  • thought content

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Mind-wandering contents and characteristics: an exploratory study comparing between work and non-work contexts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this