Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of Psychology


Industrial/Organizational Psychology

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, 64 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Jason G Randall

Committee Members

Dev D Dalal


Attentiveness, Mind wandering, Relationship, Roles, Social exchange, Trust, Attention, Facial expression, Gaze

Subject Categories

Social Psychology


Exchange relationships are built through reciprocation of social resources, including, as we argue in this paper, signals that one is paying attention to another. To do so, we draw on interdisciplinary areas of involvement: mind wandering, facial prototypes, and social exchange theory to investigate (a) the types of cues people look for to detect whether an exchange partner is inattentive (i.e., mind wandering); (b) how context affects the attribution of these cues; and (c) the interactive effects between mind wandering cues and context on measures of exchange quality (i.e., trust). These ideas were tested in two different studies that manipulated facial and context cues. Study 1 (N = 253) demonstrated that perceptions of mind wandering increased when participants viewed short video clips where actors displayed gaze aversion and low facial expressivity cues—what we label as the mind wandering prototype. Study 2 (N = 211) extended these findings by presenting longer video vignettes of an established social exchange relationship between a supervisor and the participant who assumed the role of the subordinate. We experimentally crossed the presentation of prototypical mind wandering cues with conversational topics that were either related or unrelated to the exchange partners’ social role. The results confirmed and extended Study 1 findings by demonstrating that prototypical mind wandering cues indirectly decrease trust in the supervisor by increasing perceptions of mind wandering. Additionally, context cues of the conversation topic’s role-relevance influenced perceptions of mind wandering and trust in the supervisor in largely expected ways. We conclude by discussing the implications of these results for the detection of mind wandering in others and the potential social consequences this has for social exchange relationships.