Document Type

Article

Publication Date

5-2018

Embargo Period

5-2020

Publication Title

The Oxford Handbook of Spontaneous Thought: Mind-Wandering, Creativity, and Dreaming

Abstract

Spontaneous thoughts occur by default in the interstices between directed, task-oriented thoughts or moments of perceptual scrutiny. Their contents are overwhelmingly related to thinkers’ current goals, either directly or indirectly via associative networks, including past and future goals. Their evocation is accompanied by emotional responses that vary widely in type, valence, and intensity. Given these properties of thought flow, spontaneous thoughts are highly adaptive as (1) reminders of the individual’s larger agenda of goals while occupied with pursuing any one of them, (2) promotion of planning for future goal pursuits, (3) deeper understanding of past goal-related experiences, and (4) development of creative solutions to problems in goal pursuit. The same mechanisms may occasion repetitive but unproductive thoughts about the pursuit, the consequences of the failure, or the self, and strong negative emotions steering the train of thought may lead to narrowing of its focus, thus producing rumination.

DOI

10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190464745.013.24

Comments

"Spontaneous Thought and Goal Pursuit: From Functions Such as Planning to Dysfunctions Such as Rumination" is from The Oxford Handbook of Spontaneous Thought: Mind-Wandering, Creativity, and Dreaming edited by Kalina Christoff and Kieran C.R. Fox, 2018, reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press. This chapter is also available online through Oxford University Press.

Rights

(c) Oxford University Press, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Available for download on Friday, May 01, 2020

Share

COinS