Where is my mind? Examining mind-wandering and vigilance performance
- 50 Downloads
Vigilance is the ability to sustain attention to information for prolonged periods of time, particularly in environments where critical signals may be rare. Recent research in the domain of mind-wandering has suggested that processes associated with mind-wandering may underpin the typical decline in vigilance task performance. Current methods for measuring mind-wandering either disrupt vigils by asking probe questions throughout the task, or, require observers to reflect on how much mind-wandering occurred during the task upon conclusion of the vigil. Across three experimental studies, we treat mind-wandering as an individual difference, which was measured pre- and post-vigil. We argue this technique is a more holistic representation of mind-wandering and is less intrusive than probe measures, which serve to disrupt the vigil. The results of our first experiment challenge previous results in the literature: higher rates of mind-wandering were associated with improved correct detection performance. Interestingly, the second experiment suggests that increases in mind-wandering were not linked to vigilance performance deficits. However, significant differences in global workload emerged in the second experiment, implying individuals low in mind-wandering report greater workload. In a third experiment, wherein we manipulated event rate, mind-wandering typology had no significant effect on vigilance performance. We conclude with a discussion of the relevance of individual differences in mind-wandering in vigilance research considering the present findings.
KeywordsAttention Human performance Mind-wandering Sustained attention Vigilance
This research was supported by the University of Central Florida Dean’s Dissertation Completion Fellowship, which was awarded to Dr. Alexis R. Neigel in 2017 and Dr. Victoria L. Claypoole in 2018.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the official policies, either expressed or implied, of the US Air Force Academy or the US Government. The US Government is authorized to reproduce and distribute reprints for Government purposes notwithstanding any copyright notation herein.
- Claypoole VL, Dever DA, Denues KL, Szalma JL (2018) The effects of event rate on cognitive based vigilance tasks. Hum Factors 2018:1–11Google Scholar
- Kahneman D (1973) Attention and effort. Prentice Hall, New JerseyGoogle Scholar
- Warm JS, Dember WN (1998) Tests of vigilance taxonomy. In: Hoffman RB, Sherrick MF, Warm JS (eds) Viewing psychology as a whole: the integrative science of William N. Dember. American Psychological Association, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
- Warm JS, Jerison HJ (1984) The psychophysics of vigilance. In: Warm JS (ed) Sustained attention in human performance. Wiley, Chichester, pp 15–59Google Scholar
- Warm JS, Dember WN, Hancock PA (1996) Vigilance and workload in automated systems. In: Parasuraman R, Mouloua M (eds) Human factors in transportation. Automation and human performance: theory and applications. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., New Jersey, pp 183–200Google Scholar