Being a daydreamer is a sign that you are intelligent and creative, new research concludes.
The result comes from a study in which over 100 people had their brains scanned while they stared at a fixed point for five minutes.
The researchers wanted to see how their brains worked in unison when they were given nothing in particular to do.
People whose brains worked more efficiently had greater intellectual abilities and also reported more daydreaming in their everyday lives.
Dr Eric Schumacher, study co-author, said:
“People with efficient brains may have too much brain capacity to stop their minds from wandering.[…]
People tend to think of mind wandering as something that is bad.
You try to pay attention and you can’t.
Our data are consistent with the idea that this isn’t always true.
Some people have more efficient brains.”
One way to tell if your brain is more efficient is if you naturally zone out of conversations…
…but when you tune back in, you find you haven’t really missed anything.
Dr Schumacher said:
“Our findings remind me of the absent-minded professor — someone who’s brilliant, but off in his or her own world, sometimes oblivious to their own surroundings.
Or school children who are too intellectually advanced for their classes.
While it may take five minutes for their friends to learn something new, they figure it out in a minute, then check out and start daydreaming.”
Next the researchers are hoping to look at when mind wandering is useful and when it is not so useful.
Ms Christine A. Godwin, the study’s first author, said:
“There are important individual differences to consider as well, such as a person’s motivation or intent to stay focused on a particular task.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Neuropsychologia (Godwin et al., 2017).