This essay will peruse the literature on mind-wandering in regards to its involvement in consciousness, the methods of its measurement, the causes of the phenomenon, what makes one more susceptible to it, the content of it, the psychological and cognitive costs and benefits of it and the influence these costs and benefits have on academic life. Mind-wandering is important because it is a ubiquitous part of our psychological lives. Despite our intuitions, Killingsworth and Gilbert (2010) have shown mind-wandering occurs during 46.9% percent of our psychological lives. Moreover, with many embracing the curiosities of mindfulness and being “in-the-now”, mind-wandering is seldom treated as more than a useless distraction, and therefore deserves to have its strengths examined and highlighted. This paper will put forth a nuanced position, contending that in learning environments mind-wandering is generally detrimental, however, suggesting that when mind-wandering can be harnessed and exerted in the appropriate circumstances by applying metacognitive strategies, one can have a more fruitful, and versatile mind than one that never wanders.
In subjective terms: mind-wandering is the experience of unintentionally producing thoughts unrelated to what the subject should be thinking about; off the particular relevant topic (McVay & Kane, 2009). In cognitive psychology, mind-wandering is postulated to be a product arising from the cyclic activity of two fundamental cognitive processes, namely, perceptual decoupling, where one disengages with their sensory and perceptual information, and meta-awareness, where one becomes cognizant of their own conscious thoughts and contents (Schooler et al., 2011).
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...& Davidson, 2012).
This study in conjunction with the extensive list of costs, benefits and crucial functions allures to the benefits that can be exploited if one is capable of harnessing when, where and how much they mind-wander. Theoretically, the benefits gleaned from a mind that does not wander frequently could be superseded by one that alternates between mindfulness and mind-wandering according to the present environment and its tasks. In summation, this paper has explored and appraised general data surrounding the phenomenon of mind-wandering and argued in spite of the fact that there is a plethora of deleterious consequences, that mind-wandering ought not be entirely banished. Instead, mind-wandering is essential and could in hypothetical circumstances lead to more versatility and productivity in certain dimensions of both ordinary-life and academic contexts.
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