Mind-wandering across the age gap: Age-related differences in mind-wandering are partially attributable to age-related differences in motivation

Paul Seli, Kevin O'Neill, Jonathan S.A. Carriere, Daniel Smilek, Roger E. Beaty, Daniel L. Schacter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives: A common finding in the mind-wandering literature is that older adults (OAs) tend to mind-wander less frequently than young adults (YAs). Here, we sought to determine whether this age-related difference in mind-wandering is attributable to age-related differences in motivation. Method: YAs and OAs completed an attention task during which they responded to thought probes that assessed rates of mind-wandering, and they provided self-reports of task-based motivation before and after completion of the attention task. Results: Age-related differences in mind-wandering are partially explained by differences in motivation, and motivating YAs via incentive diminishes mind-wandering differences across these groups. Discussion: We consider these results in the context of theories on age-related differences in mind wandering, with a specific focus on their relevance to the recently proposed motivational account of such age-related differences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1264-1271
Number of pages8
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Volume76
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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