Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Psychol., 28 November 2013 | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00892

The way we encounter reading material influences how frequently we mind wander

  • Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada

We examined whether different encounters of reading material influence the likelihood of mind wandering, memory for the material, and the ratings of interest in the material. In a within-subjects design participants experienced three different reading encounters: (1) reading a passage aloud, (2) listening to a passage being read to them, and (3) reading a passage silently. Throughout each reading encounter probes were given in order to identify mind wandering. After finishing the passage participants also rated how interesting it was and completed a content recognition test. Results showed that reading aloud led to the least amount of mind wandering, while listening to the passage led to the most mind wandering. Listening to the passage was also associated with the poorest memory performance and the least interest in the material. Finally, within the silent reading and listening encounters we observed negative relations between mind wandering and both memory performance and interest in the material, replicating previous findings. Taken together, the present findings improve our understanding of the nature of mind wandering while reading, and have potentially important implications for readers seeking to take advantage of the convenience of audiobooks and podcasts.

Keywords: reading silently, reading aloud, listening, mind wandering, memory, interest ratings

Citation: Varao Sousa TL, Carriere JSA and Smilek D (2013) The way we encounter reading material influences how frequently we mind wander. Front. Psychol. 4:892. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00892

Received: 31 May 2013; Paper pending published: 13 July 2013;
Accepted: 10 November 2013; Published online: 28 November 2013.

Edited by:

Jonathan Schooler, University of California Santa Barbara, USA

Reviewed by:

Peter Dixon, University of Alberta, Canada
Michael J. Kane, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, USA
James M. Broadway, University of California Santa Barbara, USA
Benjamin Baird, University of California Santa Barbara, USA

Copyright © 2013 Varao Sousa, Carriere and Smilek. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Daniel Smilek, Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1, Canada e-mail: dsmilek@uwaterloo.ca

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