University of Hertfordshire

From the same journal

By the same authors

  • Scott Cole
  • Ioanna Markostamou
  • Lynn Ann Watson
  • Krystian Barzykowski
  • İrem Ergen
  • Andrea Taylor
  • Sezin Öner
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Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2022


In 2020, the world was amid a global health crisis—the COVID-19 pandemic. Nations had varying levels of morbidity and mortality and adopted different measures to prevent the spread of infection. Effects of the pandemic on spontaneous (rather than voluntary) past and future thoughts remain unexplored. Here, we report data from a multi-country online study examining how both country- and individual-level factors are associated with this core aspect of human cognition. Results showed that national (stringency of measures) and individual (attention to COVID-related information and worry) factors separately and jointly predicted the frequency of people’s pandemic-related spontaneous thoughts. Additionally, no typical positivity biases were found, as both past and future spontaneous thoughts had a negative emotional valence. This large-scale multi-national study provides novel insights towards better understanding the emergence and qualities of spontaneous past and future thoughts. Findings are discussed in terms of the determinants and functions of spontaneous thought.


© 2022, American Psychological Association. This is the accepted manuscript version of an article which has been published in final form at

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