Article

A Wandering Mind is an Unhappy Mind

Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.
Science (Impact Factor: 33.61). 11/2010; 330(6006):932. DOI: 10.1126/science.1192439
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT

We developed a smartphone technology to sample people’s ongoing thoughts, feelings, and actions and found (i) that people
are thinking about what is not happening almost as often as they are thinking about what is and (ii) found that doing so typically
makes them unhappy.

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    • "With the advent of the Internet and digital communication, ESM has recently transitioned to the stage of the smartphone. The small but growing corpus of smartphone ESM studies includes ethnic identity (Yip, 2005), mind wandering and happiness (Killingsworth & Gilbert, 2010), lexical decision tasks (Dufau et al., 2011), and our own study on solitude and social media usage (Thomas & Azmitia, in preparation). "
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    ABSTRACT: Our understanding of emerging adults is largely based on retrospective self-reports that can be limited by poor recall, current mood, and social desirability. To address these shortcomings, Larson and Csikszentmihalyi (1978) pioneered the Experience Sampling Method (ESM) with electronic pagers and paper-pencil surveys. The increasing ubiquity of smartphone ownership allows researchers to take ESM to the next level: developing smartphone applications programmed to alert participants, collect responses, and send data directly to a database for analysis. This paper suggests types of research questions relevant to emerging adults that can be pursued using ESM. We also present a case study of the development of an Android app with 68 emerging adults, including the challenges and benefits of using this technology. Despite the challenges, we encourage researchers to consider ESM as an innovative and ecologically valid method for studying within- and between-participant variability on a variety of topics relevant to emerging adults.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2015 · Emerging Adulthood
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    • "Unfortunately, being mindful at every moment of the workday is fairly uncommon. Research suggests that people engage in mind wondering – a lack of attention and awareness to the present (Smallwood & Schooler, 2006) – for the majority of their day (in every task except making love) (Killingsworth & Gilbert, 2010). Further, there is another state of consciousness called flow – an intense sense of concentration and control over activities – that has also been linked to workplace performance (Nakamura & Csikszentmihalyi, 2002). "
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    ABSTRACT: Mindfulness—present moment attention and awareness (Brown & Ryan, 2003)—is commonly proposed as a productive state of consciousness in the workplace. Unfortunately, being mindful at every moment of the workday is fairly uncommon. Research suggests that people engage in mind wandering —a lack of attention to and awareness of the present (Smallwood & Schooler, 2006)—for the majority of their day (in every task except making love; Killingsworth & Gilbert, 2010). Further, there is another state of consciousness called flow —an intense sense of concentration and control over activities—that has also been linked to workplace performance (Nakamura & Csikszentmihalyi, 2002). Interestingly, whereas mindfulness facilitates higher performance by being aware of external stimuli, flow enables higher performance by doing the opposite—blocking out external stimuli. These findings suggest that mindfulness is neither the most common psychological state nor the only productive psychological state for the workplace.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2015 · Industrial and Organizational Psychology
    • "Fifth, emotionality and ST have been shown to influence each other in a reciprocal and complex way (Varendonck, 1921). Experimental manipulations for increasing negative mood enhance levels of mindwandering (Smallwood, Fitzgerald, Miles, & Phillips, 2009), whereas an experience-sampling study suggested that being off-task might enhance future levels of unhappiness (Killingsworth & Gilbert, 2010), but Klinger (2013b) argues and Poerio et al. (2013) present data to show that affect reflects the content of ST, rather than ST as such. From a neurobiological standpoint, a recent meta-analysis provided evidence that ST and socioemotional processing partially rely on common brain areas belonging to the DMN, such as dorsal MPFC and precuneus (Schilbach et al., 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: There is increasing interest in spontaneous thought, namely task-unrelated or rest-related mental activity. Spontaneous thought is an umbrella term for processes like mindwandering, involuntary autobiographical memory, and daydreaming, with evidence elucidating adaptive and maladaptive consequences. In this theoretical framework, we propose that, apart from its positive functions, spontaneous thought is a precursor for cognitive vulnerability in individuals who are at-risk for mood disorders. Importantly, spontaneous thought mostly focuses on unattained goals and evaluates the discrepancy between current and desired status (Klinger, 1971, 2013a). In individuals who stably (i.e., trait negative affectivity) or transitorily (i.e., stress) experience negative emotions in reaction to goal-discrepancy, spontaneous thought fosters major cognitive vulnerabilities (e.g., rumination, hopelessness, low self-esteem, and cognitive reactivity) which, in turn, enhance depression. Furthermore, we also highlight preliminary links between spontaneous thought and bipolar disorder. The evidence for this framework is reviewed and we discuss theoretical and clinical implications of our proposal.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2015 · Clinical Psychological Science
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