Meta-analysis of aging effects in mind wandering: Methodological and sociodemographic factors.

Our attention frequently shifts from ongoing tasks to internal content such that we find ourselves mind wandering (MW). Recent research has revealed that increasing age in adulthood is associated with a decrease in the frequency of MW, but the factors that contribute to this age-related effect are unclear. Thus, in the present study we conducted a meta-analysis of age differences in MW that aimed to analyze (a) the size and consistency of the age-related decrease in MW frequency, and (b) the moderating impact of methodological and sociodemographic factors. We analyzed studies comparing MW frequency in healthy younger and older groups and found a large effect in older adults. The age-related decrease in MW was more pronounced for probe compared to self-caught procedures, when task-related interfering thoughts were measured separately, when visual masks were presented, as the proportion of targets increased, and as older participants and fewer women were included in older adult groups. In discussing the theoretical and practical implications of these findings, we highlight the role of motivation and response options and provide recommendations for future research. These included emphasizing the need for open-ended methods in order to avoid bias due to MW instructions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)