Psychology Bulletin2013-09-05 2:57 AM

Disentangling decoupling: Comment on Smallwood (2013)

Abstract Smallwood (2013) made important contributions to the science of mind wandering by distinguishing between 2 aspects of the mind-wandering experience: (a) how the mind wanders, which entails the process of maintaining the continuity of a mind-wandering episode, and (b) why the mind wanders, which refers to those mechanisms that lead to the occurrence of a mind-wandering episode. This new process–occurrence framework offers a way to compare and contrast existing theories of mind wandering and highlights key questions to be addressed in future work; however, we suggest that in characterizing one of the core mechanisms of mind wandering, Smallwood conflated the occurrence of a phenomenon with its explanation. Specifically, the occurrence of perceptual decoupling (i.e., that mind wandering is associated with reduced attention to external stimuli) was conflated with an explanation for its occurrence (i.e., in order to insulate the internal train of thought). Disentangling the theory of perceptual decoupling raises questions regarding both its role in insulating the internal train of thought in mind wandering and its unique theoretical contributions to the how/process of mind wandering. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)

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Psychology Bulletin

Psychological Bulletin is a bimonthly peer-reviewed academic journal that publishes evaluative and integrative research reviews and interpretations of issues in psychology, including both qualitative (narrative) and/or quantitative (meta-analytic) aspects.

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