Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Human Computer Interaction
Veronica J. Dark
Mind wandering is a pervasive aspect of mental life. Wandering minds often lead to performance decrements during demanding tasks that require concentration, highlighting the need for devising strategies to ward off mind wandering and to mitigate its deleterious effects on task performance. Accordingly, this dissertation investigated whether a brief mindfulness intervention could reduce mind wandering. Experiment 1 examined the influence of the brief mindfulness intervention on mind wandering during an ecologically valid sustained attention task, i.e., learning from a lecture video, and on the disruptive effects of mind wandering on lecture comprehension. Experiment 1 provided no supporting evidence for the beneficial influence of the brief intervention on the occurrence of mind wandering during the lecture video, nor on the disruptive effects of mind wandering on lecture comprehension. Experiment 2 examined whether the brief mindfulness intervention could reduce behavioral indices of mind wandering during a widely-used sustained attention to response task (the SART). Experiment 2 produced no evidence for the beneficial influence of the brief intervention on mind wandering during the SART either. Taken together, the current experiments indicate that the brief mindfulness intervention employed in this dissertation exerted no beneficial effects on attentional control and mind wandering during demanding tasks, underscoring the importance of examining more robust mindfulness interventions in future investigations.
The dissertation also examined the mediating role of self-reported trait mindfulness in the relationship between self-reported media multitasking frequency and mind wandering tendency. The mediation analysis revealed that trait mindfulness partially mediated the relationship between media multitasking frequency and mind wandering tendency. This partial mediation model suggests that habitual media multitasking is associated with an increased proclivity for mind wandering and that increased frequency of media multitasking is associated with lower levels of mindfulness, which is in turn associated with greater propensity for mind wandering. Therefore, it is plausible that habitual media multitaskers may find it onerous to prevent their minds from wandering because they compromise top-down attentional control while frequently and consistently switching attention among multiple forms of media, diminishing their ability to stay focused on a single task.
Yildirim, Caglar, "The self-distracting mind in the digital age: Investigating the influence of a brief mindfulness intervention on mind wandering" (2017). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 15470.