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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Re-engaging with reading material after a mind wandering episode Varao Sousa, Patricia


Despite active growth in the field of mind wandering over the past decade, there is currently a lack of understanding of what happens when mind wandering ends and individuals’ focus returns to their original task. The present thesis proposes and explores the idea that following a mind wandering occurrence during a reading task, individuals will re-engage with the text by re-reading. In Experiment 1 participants were asked to indicate where in the passage they mind wandered and note any re-reading that occurred. Experiment 2 extended this investigation to address whether re-reading as a compensatory behaviour extends to non-plot based texts, if it differs as a function of mind wandering methodology (self-caught versus probe-caught) and explored the subjective decision to complete re-engagement behaviours. Results from both studies revealed that participants re-read following mind wandering occurrences, with rates up to 45%. Furthermore, participants typically re-read 1-2 lines of text, or less, and were equally likely to re-read following probe-caught and self-caught reports of mind wandering. Experiment 2 also established that individuals were most likely to engage in compensatory acts when they felt that further clarification was needed. This thesis provides a framework that could extend to other settings, both those that easily allow for re-engagement via reviewing missed information (e.g., listening to an audiobook) and those that do not (e.g., attending live lectures, driving). Understanding how individuals re-engage in various settings where mind wandering is likely to occur can provide insight into the fluctuation of attentional focus and the immediate impact of a mind wandering episode.

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