(Proposal) Focus The Mind: Feedback Effects on Mind Wandering

Focus The Mind: Feedback Effects on Mind Wandering

Mind Wandering (MW) is a cognitive state where our thoughts is directed away from the task at hand. Hence, experiencing MW cause us to lose focus and is detrimental to our task performance. In this research we want to discover whether applying different means of feedback can focus the mind and draw attention back to the task at hand, thus, improving focus and task performance. Because MW often occur under boring tasks, we want to discover different tools that can be used to focus the mind under these situations. Especially under important and boring tasks where we should avoid MW. By mapping out different mechanisms affecting MW we provide a method for improving focus where focus is important. Task requiring focus could for example be lectures, driving heavy machinery, meetings etc…


Because the mind tends to wander under boring tasks, we put participants through the Finger-Tapping Random Sequence Generation Task (FT-RSGT). Here they sit for about 20 minutes and produce a random sequence of key-presses, pressing either “f” or “j” in random order at the pace of a metronome sound. This task requires high focus. Every time participants mind tends to wander the sequence tends to be less random as measured by Approximate Entropy (AE) and their “tapping” tends to deviate away from the metronome sound, measured as Behavior Variability (BV). In addition to these physical measures, we include self-reported intermediate thought probes, thus we also collect a subjective measure. Following every thought probes participants are required to rate their thoughts on a 4-point Likert scale, from focus (“on-task”) to un-focused (“off-task”).

The analytical method we plan to use is Hierarchical Ordered Probit Regression and is further specified in the pre-registration

Study Cost

400 participants
Baseline fee 5 £/ participant
Bonus fee 2 £/ participant
In total 7£ * 400 = 2 800 £

  • 33% service charge
    = 2 800 £ * 1.33 = 3 724 £
    Hourly base rate can be adjusted up/down based on founding

Link to pre-registration