Shifting Moods, Wandering Minds: Negative Moods Lead the Mind to Wander

Jonathan Smallwood, Annamay Fitzgerald, Lynden K. Miles, Louise H. Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

243 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study examined the effect of mood states on mind wandering. Positive, neutral, and negative moods were induced in participants prior to them completing a sustained attention task. Mind wandering was measured by using the frequencies of both behavioral lapses and retrospective indices of subjective experience. Relative to a positive mood, induction of a negative mood led participants to make more lapses, report a greater frequency of task irrelevant thoughts, and become less inclined to reengage attentional resources following a lapse. Positive mood, by contrast, was associated with a better ability to adjust performance after a lapse. These results provide further support for the notion that a negative mood reduces the amount of attentional commitment to the task in hand and may do so by enhancing the focus on task irrelevant personal concerns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-276
Number of pages6
JournalEmotion
Volume9
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2009

Keywords

  • attentional lapses
  • attentional commitment
  • mood
  • mind wandering
  • task unrelated/stimulus independent thought and self-focus
  • stimulus-independent thought
  • attention
  • performance
  • depression
  • brain

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