Lost in the sauce: the effects of alcohol on mind wandering

Michael A. Sayette, Erik D. Reichle, Jonathan W. Schooler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Alcohol consumption alters consciousness in ways that make drinking both alluring and hazardous. Recent advances in the study of consciousness using a mind-wandering paradigm permit a rigorous examination of the effects of alcohol on experiential consciousness and metaconsciousness. Fifty-four male social drinkers consumed alcohol (0.82 g/kg) or a placebo beverage and then performed a mind-wandering reading task. This task indexed both self-caught and probe-caught zone-outs to distinguish between mind wandering inside and outside of awareness. Compared with participants who drank the placebo, those who drank alcohol were significantly more likely to report that they were zoning out when probed. After this increase in mind wandering was accounted for, alcohol also lowered the probability of catching oneself zoning out. The results suggest that alcohol increases mind wandering while simultaneously reducing the likelihood of noticing one's mind wandering. Findings are discussed with regard to theories of alcohol and theories of consciousness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)747-752
Number of pages6
JournalPsychological Science
Volume20
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes

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