Self-reflection and the temporal focus of the wandering mind

Jonathan Smallwood, Jonathan W. Schooler, David J. Turk, Sheila J. Cunningham, Phebe Burns, C. Neil Macrae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Current accounts suggest that self-referential thought serves a pivotal function in the human ability to simulate the future during mind-wandering. Using experience sampling, this hypothesis was tested in two studies that explored the extent to which self-reflection impacts both retrospection and prospection during mind-wandering. Study 1 demonstrated that a brief period of self-reflection yielded a prospective bias during mind-wandering such that participants' engaged more frequently in spontaneous future than past thought. In Study 2, individual differences in the strength of self-referential thought as indexed by the memorial advantage for self rather than other-encoded items - was shown to vary with future thinking during mind-wandering. Together these results confirm that self-reflection is a core component of future thinking during mind-wandering and provide novel evidence that a key function of the autobiographical memory system may be to mentally simulate events in the future.

LanguageEnglish
Pages1120-1126
Number of pages7
JournalConsciousness and Cognition
Volume20
Issue number4
Early online date31 Jan 2011
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2011

Cite this

Smallwood, J., Schooler, J. W., Turk, D. J., Cunningham, S. J., Burns, P., & Macrae, C. N. (2011). Self-reflection and the temporal focus of the wandering mind. Consciousness and Cognition, 20(4), 1120-1126. DOI: 10.1016/j.concog.2010.12.017
Smallwood, Jonathan ; Schooler, Jonathan W. ; Turk, David J. ; Cunningham, Sheila J. ; Burns, Phebe ; Macrae, C. Neil. / Self-reflection and the temporal focus of the wandering mind. In: Consciousness and Cognition. 2011 ; Vol. 20, No. 4. pp. 1120-1126
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Smallwood, J, Schooler, JW, Turk, DJ, Cunningham, SJ, Burns, P & Macrae, CN 2011, 'Self-reflection and the temporal focus of the wandering mind' Consciousness and Cognition, vol. 20, no. 4, pp. 1120-1126. DOI: 10.1016/j.concog.2010.12.017

Self-reflection and the temporal focus of the wandering mind. / Smallwood, Jonathan; Schooler, Jonathan W.; Turk, David J.; Cunningham, Sheila J.; Burns, Phebe; Macrae, C. Neil.

In: Consciousness and Cognition, Vol. 20, No. 4, 12.2011, p. 1120-1126.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Smallwood J, Schooler JW, Turk DJ, Cunningham SJ, Burns P, Macrae CN. Self-reflection and the temporal focus of the wandering mind. Consciousness and Cognition. 2011 Dec;20(4):1120-1126. Available from, DOI: 10.1016/j.concog.2010.12.017