The effects of intentional and unintentional mind wandering and perceptual load on driving performance

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2021-2-24
Özbozdağlı, Seda
Mind wandering, or task-unrelated thoughts, is related to decrements in performance on many tasks, including driving. It might occur despite best efforts to stay focused on the task, yet recent work suggested that mind wandering may also be intentionally engaged. However, studies investigating the relationship between mind wandering and driving have not distinguished intentional and unintentional task-unrelated thoughts. The level of load imposed on the perceptual system by the environment is an important factor determining the frequency of mind wandering while driving, but the changes in the proportion of intentional and unintentional mind wandering based on task demands remain to be elucidated. The present study investigated the differences between intentional and unintentional mind wandering rates under low and high perceptual load, the effects of intentional and unintentional mind wandering on operational, tactical, and strategic behaviors, and explored the potential impact of probes on performance. Sixty-eight participants drove a simulated vehicle and were intermittently probed. Mind wandering type did not have a significant effect on operational and tactical behaviors. However, intentional mind wandering predicted strategic performance under low perceptual load. When two types of thought reports were combined into an overall measure of mind wandering, operational performance improved during mind wandering as compared to on-task focus. The most important finding was that thought probes affected lane keeping performance negatively, regardless of drivers’ thoughts. Findings suggest that treating mind wandering as a unitary or multidimensional construct may yield different results and methods for measuring mind wandering during driving need to be revised.
Citation Formats
S. Özbozdağlı, “The effects of intentional and unintentional mind wandering and perceptual load on driving performance,” Ph.D. - Doctoral Program, Middle East Technical University, 2021.