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Zachary C. Irving
University of Virginia
  1. Drifting and Directed Minds: The Significance of Mind-Wandering for Mental Action.Zachary C. Irving - manuscript
    Perhaps the central question in action theory is this: what ingredient of bodily action is missing in mere behaviour? But what is an analogous question for mental action? I ask the following: what ingredient of active, goal-directed, thought is missing in mind-wandering? I answer that guidance is the missing ingredient that separates mind-wandering and directed thinking. I define mind-wandering as unguided attention. Roughly speaking, attention is guided when you would feel pulled back, were you distracted. In contrast, a wandering attention (...)
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  2. Mind-Wandering: A Philosophical Guide.Zachary C. Irving & Aaron Glasser - forthcoming - Philosophical Compass.
    Philosophers have long been fascinated by the stream of consciousness––thoughts, images, and bits of inner speech that dance across the inner stage. Yet for centuries, such “mind-wandering” was deemed private and thus resistant to empirical investigation. Recent developments in psychology and neuroscience have reinvigorated scientific interest in the stream of thought, leading some researchers to dub this “the era of the wandering mind”. Despite this flurry of progress, scientists have stressed that mind-wandering research requires firmer philosophical foundations. The time is (...)
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  3.  72
    What Does "Mind-Wandering" Mean To The Folk? An Empirical Investigation.Zachary C. Irving, Aaron Glasser, Alison Gopnik & Chandra Sekhar Sripada - manuscript
    Although mind-wandering research is rapidly progressing, stark disagreements are emerging about what the term “mind-wandering” means. Four prominent views define mind-wandering as 1) task-unrelated thought, 2) stimulus-independent thought, 3) unintentional thought, or 4) dynamically unguided thought. Although theorists claim to capture the ordinary understanding of mind-wandering, no systematic studies have assessed these claims. Two large factorial studies present participants (n=545) with vignettes that describe someone’s thoughts and ask whether her mind was wandering, while systematically manipulating features relevant to the four (...)
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