Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science




Experimental Psychology

Committee Chair

Arthur C. Graesser

Committee Member

Vasile Rus

Committee Member

Evan Risko


Mind wandering is a phenomenon in which attentiondrifts away from the primary task to task-unrelatedthoughts. Previous studies have used self-report methods tomeasure the frequency of mind wandering and its effects ontask performance. Many of these studies have investigatedmind wandering in simple perceptual and memory tasks,such as recognition memory, sustained attention, and choicereaction time tasks. Manipulations of task difficulty haverevealed that mind wandering occurs more frequently ineasy than in difficult conditions, but that it has a greaternegative impact on performance in the difficult conditions.The goal of this study was to examine the relation betweenmind wandering and task difficulty in a high-level cognitivetask, namely reading comprehension of standardized texts.We hypothesized that reading comprehension may yield adifferent relation between mind wandering and task difficultythan has been observed previously. Participants readeasy or difficult versions of eight passages and then answeredcomprehension questions after reading each of thepassages. Mind wandering was reported using the probecaughtmethod from several previous studies. In contrast tothe previous results, but consistent with our hypothesis,mind wandering occurred more frequently when participantsread difficult rather than easy texts. However, mindwandering had a more negative influence on comprehensionfor the difficult texts, which is consistent with the previousdata. The results are interpreted from the perspectives of theexecutive-resources and control-failure theories of mindwandering, as well as with regard to situation models oftext comprehension.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.