|Self-reflection and the temporal focus of the wandering mind.
|Year of Publication
|Smallwood J., Schooler J.W, Turk D.J, Cunningham S.J, Burns P., Macrae C.N.
|Consciousness and Cognition.
Current accounts suggest that self-referential thought serves a pivotal function in the human ability to simulate the future during mind-wandering. Using experience sampling, this hypothesis was tested in two studies that explored the extent to which self-reflection impacts both retrospection and prospection during mind-wandering. Study 1 demonstrated that a brief period of self-reflection yielded a prospective bias during mind-wandering such that participants’ engaged more frequently in spontaneous future than past thought. In Study 2, individual differences in the strength of self-referential thought — as indexed by the memorial advantage for self rather than other-encoded items — was shown to vary with future thinking during mind-wandering. Together these results confirm that self-reflection is a core component of future thinking during mind-wandering and provide novel evidence that a key function of the autobiographical memory system may be to mentally simulate events in the future.