Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 754–760 | Cite as

Are you mind-wandering, or is your mind on task? The effect of probe framing on mind-wandering reports

  • Yana Weinstein
  • Henry J. De Lima
  • Tim van der Zee
Brief Report


The last decade has seen a dramatic rise in the number of studies that utilize the probe-caught method of collecting mind-wandering reports. This method involves stopping participants during a task, presenting them with a thought probe, and asking them to choose the appropriate report option to describe their thought-state. In this experiment we manipulated the framing of this probe, and demonstrated a substantial difference in mind-wandering reports as a function of whether the probe was presented in a mind-wandering frame compared with an on-task frame. This framing effect has implications both for interpretations of existing data and for methodological choices made by researchers who use the probe-caught mind-wandering paradigm.


Mind-wandering Task-unrelated thoughts Framing Response bias 



Fabian Weinstein-Jones created the Excel Macro to match mind-wandering data to test scores and demographics. Sowmya Guthikonda adapted the Turning Technology java-based API to collect mind-wandering responses. This project was funded by a University of Massachusetts Lowell internal Seed Grant. H.J. De L. was funded by the University of Massachusetts Lowell Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Emerging Scholars program, and T. v.d. Z. was funded by the Leids Universiteits Fonds. We thank James Farley for extensive and helpful reviewer comments.

Supplementary material

13423_2017_1322_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (100 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 100 kb)


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yana Weinstein
    • 1
  • Henry J. De Lima
    • 1
    • 2
  • Tim van der Zee
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Massachusetts LowellLowellUSA
  2. 2.Graduate School of Social WorkBoston CollegeBostonUSA
  3. 3.Graduate School of TeachingLeiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands

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