Compliant activity inhibits deliberate mind wandering and accelerates thought probe responsiveness compared to compliant inactivity
Authors: Amos-Oluwole, O.I., Subhani, B.R., Claxton, H., Holmes, D.C., Westling, C.E.I. and Witchel, H.J.
Journal: ECCE 2019 - Proceedings of the 31st European Conference on Cognitive Ergonomics: ''Design for Cognition''
INTRODUCTION: Mind wandering is often an interposing mental state in which a person has thoughts unrelated to the primary task they are performing. It leads to diminished performance and error risk on the primary task. Recently mind wandering being proposed as comprising two different states: deliberate/intentional and spontaneous/unintentional. OBJECTIVE: We hypothesise that forced engagement via persistent compliant activity may both increase responsiveness and inhibit non-instrumental activities including deliberate mind wandering. METHODS: Two versions of a sustained attention task (Test of Variables of Attention, ToVA, a go/no-go task) were presented to twenty-eight seated, healthy participants (ages 19-35, 19 female): one with infrequent targets (25%) and another with frequent targets (75%, requiring increased compliant activity). Mind wandering was assessed by thought probes, and thought probe durations were measured using Superlab with an RB530 interaction device. RESULTS: Increased compliant activity decreased deliberate mind wandering while increasing spontaneous mind wandering. Thought probe durations were significantly shortened by increasing target frequency (and by being on-task), while deliberate and spontaneous mind wandering elicited equivalent thought probe durations. CONCLUSION: Responsive compliant activity is a useful tool to interrogate mind wandering. Compliant activity differentially affects deliberate and spontaneous mind wandering. This strongly supports theories that discriminate these two types of mind wandering.