Imprisoned by the past: unhappy moods lead to a retrospective bias to mind wandering

Smallwood, J. and O'Connor, R.C. (2011) Imprisoned by the past: unhappy moods lead to a retrospective bias to mind wandering. Cognition and Emotion, 25(8), pp. 1481-1490. (doi: 10.1080/02699931.2010.545263)

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Evidence suggests that mind wandering is a frequent accompaniment to an unhappy mood. Building on such work, two laboratory experiments used mood induction to assess whether the greater frequency of mind wandering in a low mood is also accompanied by a shift towards a focus on events from the past. Experiment 1 induced moods via video and induction of an unhappy mood was associated with a greater tendency for past-related mind wandering as measured by a post-task questionnaire. In Experiment 2, negative and positive moods were induced in a group of participants using the Velten mood-induction procedure and the temporal focus of mind wandering was measured using experience sampling probes. Analyses indicated that induction of an unhappy mood led to an increase in past-related mind wandering and the magnitude of this change increased with scores on a measure of depressive symptoms. Together these experiments suggest that when the mind wanders in an unhappy mood it is drawn to events from its past.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:O'Connor, Professor Rory
Authors: Smallwood, J., and O'Connor, R.C.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Mental Health and Wellbeing
Journal Name:Cognition and Emotion
ISSN (Online):1464-0600

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