Daydreaming Boosts Creativity, Study Suggests
Permission to daydream, granted.
A new study in the journal Psychological Science shows that allowing your mind to wander might actually be good for your creative prowess.
Researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara, found an association between daydreaming and creative problem-solving. Their study involved having participants first conduct an “unusual use task” — where they had to try to come up with as many weird ways to use an object as they could.
Then, the study participants did one of four things before doing the “unusual use task” again: perform a demanding task (where, presumably, their attention would be totally occupied by the task); perform an undemanding task; take a 12-minute break; or skip the 12-minute break and move right on to the task exercise again.
Researchers found that the only group who did better on the “unusual use task” the second time compared to the first time were the participants who completed the undemanding task. Since the people assigned to the undemanding task also reported high levels of daydreaming while completing this task, the researchers speculated that this mind-wandering helped to contribute to their higher scores on the creative challenge.
“These data suggest that engaging in simple external tasks that allow the mind to wander may facilitate creative problem solving,” the researchers wrote in the study.
Recently, a study in the same journal showed that daydreaming could also be good for your working memory (the kind of memory that enables us to think about multiple things at once, and could be linked with intelligence). Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Science found that people whose minds wandered during a simple task where also the ones with greater working memory.