An individual differences investigation of the relations among life event stress, working memory capacity, and mind wandering: A preregistered replication-extension study

Abstract

Klein and Boals (2001a, Applied Cognitive Psychology, 15[5], 565–579, Experiments 1 and 2) found that working memory capacity correlated negatively with perceived negative life event stress and speculated the relation may be driven by thoughts produced from these experiences. Here, we sought to replicate the association between working memory capacity and perceived negative life experience and to assess potential mediators of this association such as mind wandering propensity, rumination propensity, and the sum of negatively valenced mind wandering reports. In this preregistered replication and extension study, with data collected from 356 subjects (ns differ among analyses), we found no evidence suggesting that perceived negative life stress is associated with working memory capacity. Additionally, we found evidence consistent with the claim that negatively valenced mind wandering is uniquely detrimental to cognitive task performance, but we highlight a potential confound that may account for this association that should be addressed in future work.

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Notes

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    In some of our models, individual bootstrap pulls did not converge; this resulted in the estimation being based on less than 5,000 bootstrap draws. The smallest number of bootstrap draws used here was 4,998. Individual model outputs can be seen in our analysis scripts.

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Open practices statement

The data and analyses for this project are available (https://osf.io/shxb6/). This study was preregistered. The preregistration is available (https://aspredicted.org/zp2w6.pdf). The SART task used here is available (https://osf.io/shxb6/). Shortened complex span tasks are available from Randy Engle’s lab at Georgia Institute of Technology (http://englelab.gatech.edu/taskdownloads). The questionnaires used here are available from the original authors.

Author note

As noted in the preregistration, a subset of the analyses presented here was done on the data after the first semester of data collection for a thesis project by the first author of this paper. That thesis can be found here: https://thesiscommons.org/8mce4/. We appreciate the input of thesis committee members David de Jong and David McCord. For assistance in data collection, we thank Spencer Acker, Capucine Gorelov, Anastasia Hillsgrove, Allyson Jones, Lacey Rutherford, Alexa Sumner, and Natalia Torres Wong.

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Correspondence to Matt E. Meier.

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Goller, H., Banks, J.B. & Meier, M.E. An individual differences investigation of the relations among life event stress, working memory capacity, and mind wandering: A preregistered replication-extension study. Mem Cogn 48, 759–771 (2020). https://doi.org/10.3758/s13421-020-01014-8

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Keywords

  • Working memory capacity
  • Life event stress
  • Individual differences
  • Mind wandering
  • Replication