شباهت ها و تفاوت بین سرگردانی ذهن و حواس پرتی خارجی: تجزیه و تحلیل متغیر پنهان توجه و ارتباط آنها با توانایی های شناختی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|38797||2014||12 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Acta Psychologica, Volume 150, July 2014, Pages 14–25
Abstract The current study examined the extent to which task-unrelated thoughts represent both vulnerability to mind-wandering and susceptibility to external distraction from an individual difference perspective. Participants performed multiple measures of attention control, working memory capacity, and fluid intelligence. Task-unrelated thoughts were assessed using thought probes during the attention control tasks. Using latent variable techniques, the results suggested that mind-wandering and external distraction reflect distinct, yet correlated constructs, both of which are related to working memory capacity and fluid intelligence. Furthermore, the results suggest that the common variance shared by mind-wandering, external distraction, and attention control is what primarily accounts for their relation with working memory capacity and fluid intelligence. These results support the notion that lapses of attention are strongly related to cognitive abilities.
Introduction One hallmark of our cognitive system is our ability to focus attention on goal-related information and to maintain and sustain attention on goal-relevant information among potent distractors. This ability to focus attention is needed in a host of activities where any lapses of attention could result in unwanted outcomes such as driving accidents, lower academic performance, failures to spot weapons during baggage screening, and many others (e.g., Reason, 1990, Reason and Mycielska, 1982, Unsworth, Brewer and Spillers, 2012 and Unsworth, McMillan, Brewer and Spillers, 2012). Understanding lapses of attention, whereby attention has shifted away from goal-relevant information due to external (distractions) or internal stimuli (mind-wandering) is important for understanding the attentional system more broadly and for predicting when and for whom attention failures are most likely. The current study examined the extent to which mind-wandering and external distraction are the same or different constructs and the extent to which they are related to other cognitive abilities such as attention control, working memory capacity, and fluid intelligence. 1.1. Task-unrelated-thoughts A great deal of research has recently examined the extent to which we can maintain attentional focus on a task or whether our attention drifts to task-unrelated-thoughts. Task-unrelated-thoughts (TUTs) refer to situations in which attention has shifted from the current task to thoughts unrelated to the current task. For example, mind-wandering refers to a situation in which attention has shifted away from what a person is doing to self-generated thoughts unrelated to the task being performed. A number of laboratory techniques have been developed to examine TUTs including thought probe techniques in which periodically throughout a task participants are probed as to their current state (on-task or off-task) and this is examined as a function of various experimental manipulations and individual differences correlates (see Smallwood & Schooler, 2006 for a review). This research has found that TUTs vary as a function of task variables such as time on task, task complexity, and task difficulty (McVay and Kane, 2010 and Smallwood and Schooler, 2006). Importantly, TUT rates correlate with task performance such that performance is lower when participants report TUTs on the preceding trial compared to when participants report that they are currently focused on the task (McVay and Kane, 2010 and Smallwood and Schooler, 2006). In terms of individual differences, a number of recent studies have demonstrated that variation in TUTs is related to a number of cognitive variables including working memory capacity, attention control, reading comprehension, and fluid intelligence such that high performing participants typically report fewer TUTs than low performing participants in particularly attention demanding tasks (Kane et al., 2007, McVay and Kane, 2012b, Mrazek et al., 2012 and Unsworth and McMillan, in press; see Mooneyham & Schooler, 2013 for a review). This work suggests that the probe techniques for examining TUTs have been shown to be both reliable and valid and have demonstrated the importance of examining TUTs during a number of tasks and situations. 1.2. Distinguishing mind-wandering and external distraction Although the work reviewed above suggests the importance of TUTs to a number of domains, more work is needed to better understand the nature of TUTs. Typically, TUTs are associated with mind-wandering, in which attention is shifted from the current task to internal thoughts unrelated to the task at hand (Smallwood & Schooler, 2006). Indeed, in most of the studies reviewed previously, when referring to TUTs, the authors of those studies are primarily only talking about mind-wandering. However, given the way in which TUTs are typically assessed it is not possible to distinguish TUTs that are due to mind-wandering exclusively versus TUTs that are due to distractions from external stimuli. That is, prior work has typically relied on thought probe techniques where participants indicate that they were just on-task or off-task.1 It is possible that when participants indicate that they are off-task that some of the time they are referring to the fact that they were mind-wandering, whereas other times they may be referring to the fact that they were distracted from external stimuli (such as the experimenter walking around). In order to better examine possible differences between mind-wandering and external distraction Stawarczyk, Majerus, Maj, Van der Linden, and D'Argembeau (2011; see also Stawarczyk, Majerus, Maquet, & D'Argembeau, 2011) introduced a novel experience sampling method to distinguish the different varieties of TUTs. Specifically, Stawarzyk et al. used a thought probe technique in which participants were not simply instructed to indicate if they were on- or off-task, but rather participants had to indicate if they were on-task, if they were experiencing task-related interference (interfering thoughts related to the appraisal of the current task such as worry about performance), if they were distracted by external stimuli, or if they were mind-wandering. Thus, with this technique it is possible to examine the extent to which mind-wandering and external distraction similarly result in poorer task performance. Implementing this technique in the sustained attention to response task (SART; Robertson, Manly, Andrade, Baddeley, & Yiend, 1997) Stawarczyk, Majerus, Maj, et al. (2011) found that roughly 20% of the responses to the thought probes were external distractions and roughly 21% were mind-wandering. Additionally, when participants reported that they experienced either external distraction or mind-wandering performance was worse than when participants reported that they were focused on the task. Furthermore, examining individual differences Stawarzyk et al. found that individuals with high levels of either external distraction or mind-wandering tended to demonstrate worse performance than participants who reported fewer external distraction or mind-wandering. Therefore TUTs likely represent a combination of external distraction and mind-wandering, both of which are related to performance. These results point to the importance of distinguishing mind-wandering and external distraction in order to better understand the broad nature of TUTs in terms of similarities and differences between mind-wandering and external distraction. Current theorizing has, for the most part, suggested that mind-wandering is distinct from external distraction and is not simply another form of a lapse of attention (Barron et al., 2011, Schooler et al., 2011 and Smallwood, 2013). In particular, Smallwood and colleagues have suggested that mind-wandering is a state where attention is shifted from external events to internal thoughts and is thus, decoupled from perceptual inputs (e.g., Barron et al., 2011 and Smallwood, 2013). Accordingly, given that mind-wandering reflects a state of attention that is decoupled from external information, this view suggests that mind-wandering and external distraction are distinct. That is, when attention is shifted internally and decoupled from the external environment, individuals are less likely to process external information whether it be task-relevant information or external distractors. Evidence consistent with this claim comes from a study by Barron et al. (2011) in which participants performed a visual oddball task where on some trials a novel distractor stimulus was presented. Following the oddball task participants reported their propensity for mind-wandering via a self-report questionnaire. Barron et al. found that individuals who reported more mind-wandering demonstrated reductions in cortical processing (specifically reductions in the P3a) for target and distractor stimuli. Barron et al. suggested that these results provide evidence for the idea that mind-wandering is a state in which attention is decoupled from the external environment and that mind-wandering is not simply a state of distraction (see also Smilek, Carriere, & Cheyne (2010) who demonstrated that instances of mind-wandering are associated with increased blinking). Because Barron et al. found that participants who reported the most mind-wandering demonstrated the smallest cortical responses to the distractor stimuli, they suggested that mind-wandering and external distraction do not reflect common processes. However, one issue with this study is that the distractor stimuli were actually task-relevant distractors in that the distractor stimuli were of the same shape and appeared in the same visual location as target stimuli, and in order to distinguish target from distractor, some minimal amount of processing would be needed. Clearly, these task-relevant distractors are very different from other external distractors (such as the fire alarm going off during an experiment) which are not relevant to the task at hand. Thus, it is unclear whether mind-wandering and external distraction from task-unrelated information are distinct. An alternative view is that mind-wandering and external distraction both reflect failures of attention control and thus, both reflect general lapses of attention (Kane and McVay, 2012, McVay and Kane, 2010 and Unsworth et al., 2010). According to these views attention control is needed to maintain task goals in a readily accessible state in working memory to bias responding for correct behaviors. Any lapse of attention due to internal (e.g., mind-wandering) or external stimuli (e.g., loud noises) will cause the task goal to be temporarily lost from working memory potentially resulting in goal neglect in which prepotent response tendencies will guide behavior. Therefore, according to attention control views, TUTs should be related to performance on a number of attentional control tasks, which is exactly the case (McVay and Kane, 2009 and McVay and Kane, 2012b). Furthermore, according to attention control views, mind-wandering and external distraction should be positively correlated such that individuals who experience more mind-wandering should also experience more external distraction in situations where attention control is needed to maintain task goals. Evidence consistent with this position comes from a recent diary study in which participants performed a number of working memory capacity and attention control tasks in the lab and were required to carry a diary for week listing their various everyday attentional failures (as well as other failures; Unsworth, Brewer, et al., 2012). It was found that the majority of attentional failures were due to external distraction or mind-wandering. Importantly, it was found that everyday mind-wandering and external distraction were positively correlated with one another (r = .43) and both were related to latent variables of working memory capacity and attention control. In a follow-up study these attentional failures were further broken down and it was found that the most common everyday attentional failures were due to distraction and mind-wandering while in class or while studying ( Unsworth, McMillan, et al., 2012). Importantly, both mind-wandering and external distraction failures were correlated and loaded on the same latent variable which was related to working memory capacity, attention control, and SAT scores. Thus, this preliminary work suggests that mind-wandering and external distraction are related and both are related to cognitive abilities in a similar fashion. 1.3. The present study Our goal in the present study was to better examine whether mind-wandering and external distraction are similar or distinct. Given the amount of prior research that has examined mind-wandering and external distraction separately; an important goal of the current study was to examine the relation between these two types of attentional lapses. As noted previously, some research suggests that mind-wandering and external distraction are not related, whereas other work suggests that they are related. As noted by Smallwood (2013) the attention control and decoupling theories make distinct predictions in regard to the relationship between mind-wandering and external distraction. Specifically, from an individual difference perspective the attention control and decoupling theories make opposite predictions regarding the relation between mind-wandering and external distraction. In terms of the attention control theory, Smallwood (2013) suggested that this theory predicts that those individuals who experience the most mind-wandering should, in general, experience the most external distraction given that both reflect general failures of attention control and thus, are both lapses of attention (e.g., McVay and Kane, 2010 and Unsworth et al., 2010). Specifically, Smallwood (2013) noted that according to attention control views “those individuals who mind-wander the most should spend more time in a state where (a) attention to task relevant events is reduced and (b) attention to processing of external irrelevant distracter events (which is normally reduced by the process of attentional constraint is either unaffected or increased” (p. 528). Thus, mind-wandering should, in general, be linked to greater levels of external distraction. The decoupling theory, however, suggests that individuals who experience the most mind-wandering should experience the least amount of external distraction (Smallwood, 2013). Specifically, Smallwood (2013) noted that “those individuals who mind-wander the most should show a reduced processing of external events regardless of their relevance to the task” (p. 528). At a given time if an individual is mind-wandering then they are not susceptible to external distraction. That is, those individuals who mind-wander more, will spend more time with their attention decoupled from the external environment, and thus will have fewer opportunities to experience external distraction. Note that in general both the attention control and decoupling theories make similar predictions regarding individual differences in mind-wandering and explain different aspects of mind-wandering (i.e., what can cause mind-wandering vs. what happens when the mind-wanders), but for the current issue of the relation between mind-wandering and external distraction they make opposite predictions. To test the competing aspects of these theories we tested a large number of participants on a variety of attention control, working memory capacity, and fluid intelligence measures. While performing the attention control measures participants were periodically probed to as to the contents of their current thoughts in the same manner as Stawarczyk, Majerus, Maj, et al. (2011). Specifically, participants indicated if they were on-task, if they were experiencing task-related interference, if they were distracted by external stimuli, or if they were mind-wandering. Using confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modeling we addressed two main goals. First, we examined whether we could break TUTs down into mind-wandering and external distraction to determine if these two types of TUTs are similar or distinct and to examine how they relate with other cognitive ability constructs. Specifically, we examined whether mind-wandering and external distraction could be considered the same with both loading on the same latent variable, or whether they were different with each loading on their own factors. Furthermore, if mind-wandering and external distraction can be considered different constructs we examined how these two constructs would be related to one another and to the other cognitive ability measures. If mind-wandering and external distraction are distinct constructs, it is important to examine how these constructs relate to other cognitive abilities to determine if the prior relations seen with TUTs were due primarily to mind-wandering, primarily to external distraction, or some combination of both. Second, assuming that mind-wandering and external distraction are distinct, yet correlated constructs, we examined the extent to which a common attentional control construct could account for the shared variance between mind-wandering and external distraction and could account for their shared relation with working memory capacity and fluid intelligence. The decoupling theory suggests that mind-wandering and external distraction are distinct and should therefore have independent contributions to working memory capacity and fluid intelligence. The attention control theory, however, suggests that both mind-wandering and external distraction reflect lapses of attention, and thus what is important is the shared variance between these constructs and not their independent contributions. We used a latent variable approach to examine these issues. In order to derive latent variables for the constructs of interest, multiple indicators of each cognitive construct were used. This was done in order to ensure that any lack of a relation found between mind-wandering and external distraction with each other and with the other cognitive abilities would not be due to unreliability or idiosyncratic task effects. Therefore, multiple measures of each cognitive construct were used to create latent variables of mind-wandering, external distraction, attention control, working memory capacity, and fluid intelligence. By examining a large number of participants and a large and diverse number of measures we should be able to better characterize individual differences in lapses of attention and address our questions of primary interest.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
4. Conclusions Vulnerability to task-unrelated thoughts represents susceptibility to both mind-wandering and external distraction. Mind-wandering and external distraction reflect distinct, yet correlated constructs that are related to important cognitive abilities like working memory capacity and fluid intelligence. Furthermore, the results from the current study suggest that the common variance shared by mind-wandering and external distraction is what primarily accounts for their relation with working memory capacity and fluid intelligence. This suggests that individual differences in general lapses of attention are strongly related to individual differences in cognitive abilities. Understanding these lapses of attention will provide us valuable information in terms of predicting when and for whom attention failures are most likely and developing interventions to reduce lapses and increase overall performance in a variety of situations.