An experience-sampling study of the content and outcomes of socially oriented task-unrelated thoughts during a COVID-19 lockdown

Publication Name

Journal of Cognitive Psychology


There is evidence to support a role for intentional and unintentional task-unrelated thoughts (TUTs) in social cognition and emotional regulation. Individual differences in personality impact the regulation and functionality of these thoughts. This study examined how intention and trait loneliness and schizotypy relate to the content and emotional outcomes of socially-oriented TUTs recalled in daily life. The study took place during initial COVID-19 lockdown measures in Australia, providing insights into TUTs during times of uncertainty and social isolation. A total of 129 undergraduate students (118 female) completed a 7-day experience-sampling assessment following measures of schizotypy, loneliness, and trait-level mind wandering. Results revealed that intentional social TUTs had more constructive content and socio-emotional outcomes compared to unintentional TUTs. However, dimensions of schizotypy and loneliness were associated with less constructive thought patterns. Findings are discussed with reference to the content-regulation and current concerns hypotheses, and the potential impact of lockdown measures.

Open Access Status

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