Publication 2334

Fox K. C. R., Thompson E., Andrews-Hanna J. R. & Christoff K. (2014) Is Thinking Really Aversive? A Commentary on Wilson et al.’s “Just Think: The Challenges of a Disengaged Mind”. Frontiers in Psychology 5(01427): electronic. Fulltext at https://cepa.info/2334
Spontaneous thought, often colloquially referred to as “daydreaming” or “mind-wandering,” is increasingly being investigated by scientists (for recent reviews, see Christoff, 2012; Andrews-Hanna et al., 2014; Smallwood and Schooler, 2014). In a recent article published in Science, Wilson et al. (2014) argue in support of the view (e.g., Killingsworth and Gilbert, 2010) that such thinking is predominantly unpleasant, and even emotionally aversive. While we were impressed with the enormous wealth of data collected by Wilson et al. and by the number of experimental manipulations carried out, we found their interpretations surprising in light of prior research. We applaud Wilson et al.‘s detailed effort to investigate the content and affective qualities of “just thinking” – but upon examining their dataset, we find little support for their claims.

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