Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology

Re-Reading after Mind Wandering

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology

Re-Reading after Mind Wandering

Article excerpt

While reading a book, you might find that your mind wanders to thoughts unrelated to the text. Indeed, research indicates that when probed during silent reading, participants will report that their thoughts have drifted to items unrelated to the text about 35% of the time (Foulsham, Farley, & Kingstone, 2013; Reichle, Reineberg, & Schooler, 2010; Schooler, Reichle, & Halpern, 2004; Smilek, Carriere, & Cheyne, 2010; Uzzaman & Joordens, 2011). In recent years, there has been a surge of interest in understanding what happens in these mind wandering situations but surprisingly little attention has been given to the behaviours that follow these lapses of attention. The focus of the present study is to investigate an as-of-yet unexamined effect of mind wandering: the act of re-reading text following a mind wandering episode.

Standard Methods of Studying Mind Wandering While Reading

Mind wandering while reading is common and studied frequently. Typically, researchers have measured mind wandering during reading using one of two methods: probe-caught and selfcaught sampling. Probe-caught sampling, the most frequent method, requires participants to report mind wandering during the task when prompted by a tone or visual cue. With this method, probes can be spaced throughout the task to measure changes in mind wandering reports over time and to provide a proportional measure of mind wandering frequency. Self-caught sampling, on the other hand, requires the participant to first notice that their thoughts are wandering and report this during the task. Realising and reporting mind wandering has been linked to meta-awareness, which is the ability to attend to one's focus of awareness without an external prompt (Schooler et al., 2011; Smallwood, McSpadden, & Schooler, 2007; Smallwood & Schooler, 2006). Note that unlike the probe-caught method that queries a participant at specific and finite intervals, the self-caught method has no upper bound on how many times a participant might report mind wandering.

To better understand the mechanisms of mind wandering during reading researchers have turned to eye tracking measures. For example, researchers have investigated eye movements that precede or occur during mind wandering reports, and have found that eye movements before a mind wandering report are significantly different than those preceding "normal reading": the reading times are slower, the fixation counts higher, the fixation durations longer (Foulsham et al., 2013), the blink rates more frequent (Smilek et al., 2010), and the eye movement patterns less systematic (Reichle et al., 2010).

The Effect of Mind Wandering While Reading on Memory

To test the consequences of mind wandering while reading, many studies have included post-experimental memory tests (Sayette, Reichle, & Schooler, 2009; Schooler et al., 2004; Smallwood, McSpadden, & Schooler, 2008; Varao Sousa, Carriere, & Smilek, 2013). Research using probe-caught methodology has consistently found that mind wandering reports are negatively correlated with memory test performance, indicating that test performance declines as mind wandering reports increase (Franklin, Smallwood, & Schooler, 2011; Schooler et al., 2004; Smallwood et al., 2008; Varao Sousa et al., 2013). Interestingly, however, this correlation only appears reliably in probe-caught mind wandering designs, and not in self-caught designs. Researchers have therefore suggested that the probe-caught method is preferable to the selfcaught method, as the former captures "deep" incidences of mind wandering where an individual is lost in thought (Levinson, Smallwood, & Davidson, 2012; Sayette et al., 2009; Schooler et al., 2004, Experiment 1; but see also Kopp, D'Mello, & Mills, 2015; Schooler et al., 2004 Experiment 2).

Current Investigation

Despite the diversity of mind wandering research, the issue of what happens after one catches oneself mind wandering has not been investigated. …

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