Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 30 March 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Intuitions, attitudes, images, mind-wandering, dreams, and religious messages are just a few of the many kinds of uncontrolled thoughts that intrude on consciousness spontaneously without a clear reason. Logic suggests that people might thus interpret spontaneous thoughts as meaningless and be uninfluenced by them. By contrast, our survey of this literature indicates that the lack of an obvious external source or motive leads people to attribute considerable meaning and importance to spontaneous thoughts. Spontaneous thoughts are perceived to provide meaningful insight into the self, others, and the world. As a result of these metacognitive appraisals, spontaneous thoughts substantially affect the beliefs, attitudes, decisions, and behavior of the thinker. We present illustrative examples of the metacognitive appraisals by which people attribute meaning to spontaneous secular and religious thoughts, and the influence of these thoughts on judgment and decision-making, attitude formation and change, dream interpretation, and prayer discernment.

Keywords: spontaneous thought, mind-wandering, decision-making, attribution, metacognition

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.