Date Thesis Awarded

5-2015

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Science (BS)

Department

Psychology

Advisor

Chris Ball

Committee Member

Jennifer Stevens

Committee Member

Cary Humber

Abstract

The current study examined the effect of mood state on the time-frame orientation (retrospective versus prospective) of mind-wandering (i.e., daydreaming). The mood states of participants were recorded before and after performing a long, repetitive facial emotion discrimination task using the Affect Grid (emotional valence and arousal). Depending on the initial valence reported by participants, various experimental manipulations were selected to attempt to maintain this mood state, such as emotionally provoking images, the brightness of background lighting, and emotion inducing background music. During this task, each participant was prompted 15 times to provide their mind-wandering state and, if mind-wandering at the time, to then provide the time orientation and emotional content of the mind-wandering episode. Results revealed that the time-frame orientation of mind-wandering episodes were more likely to be prospective than retrospective, and the time-frame orientation was affected by both arousal and emotional valence. Depression scores, gathered at an earlier time via mass testing and related to emotional valence, were related to time orientation. Not surprisingly, the emotional content of the mind-wandering episodes matched the participant’s emotional state during the experiment. These results clearly highlight that the time-frame orientation and content of our mind-wandering episodes (daydreams) are not random but rather reflect our current concerns and physiological states.

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