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The value of daydreaming is underestimated

    Daydreaming, i.e. the ability to deal with inner thoughts without external stimulation, is a unique characteristic of man. Objectively, something always happens, even without external stimuli, but many people consider this state of affairs boring and not desirable, i.e. they are therefore constantly looking for something with which they can distract and talk.

    Hatano et al. (2022) have tested the hypothesis in six experiments that humans metacognitively underestimate their ability to enjoy this process of thinking-only. The test persons were asked to sit and wait in a quiet room without doing anything. It turned out that the predicted joy and commitment of the participants in the waiting task were significantly lower than what they actually experienced. This underestimation of pure thinking also led to participants proactively avoiding the waiting task in favor of an alternative task – such as retrieving Internet messages – although their experiences did not differ statistically.

    These results indicate an inherent difficulty in correctly assessing the value of reflection, which could explain why people prefer to engage instead of taking a moment of reflection and imagination in everyday life. But other studies are also known that daydreaming and dealing with one’s own thinking can help solve problems and promote creativity, for example. However, some people tend to negative thought loops, for which such a tailing would be a burden on the thought.


    Hatano, A., Ogulmus, C., Shigemasu, H. & Murayama, K. (2022). Thinking about thinking: People underestimate how enjoyable and engaging just waiting is. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, doi:10.1037/xge0001255.
    Stangl, W. (2022, 7. September). Der Wert des Tagträumens wird unterschätzt. Psychologie-News.