Book Definition

A common (and quite normal) variation of consciousness in which attention shifts to memories, expectations, desires, or fantasies and away from the immediate situation; daydreaming most often occurs when you are alone, relaxed, engaged in a boring or routine task, or just about to fall asleep. Most people daydream every day. Daydreaming can serve healthy functions valuable to your mind because it allows your mind to take a break, but may also feature unwelcome persistent worries or thoughts.
Daydreaming can be a source of creativity. It lets your mind wander and be creative.

In Your Own Words

  • Attention shifts during consciousness about various thoughts, desires, or worries that normally occurs when you are bored, alone, or relaxed.
  • A fantasy you see while awake, especially one of happy or pleasant thoughts.
  • Can feature persistent and unwelcome wishes, worries, or fantasies.
  • Daydreaming is most common in young people, and those who daydream more show higher signs of intelligence and creative thinking.
  • Taking your mind off of present activities and shifts to memories and thoughts.


  • Thinking of anything off topic during a lecture such as something that happened last weekend, with parents, or at work, etc.
  • Your parents are talking to you and you mute them out by thinking about what you're going to do this weekend.
  • When you sit down to complete your homework, and soon find yourself off task and thinking about other things.
  • During class your teacher is lecturing, instead of paying attention you imagine what the teacher's life is like outside of school.
  • You are sitting at the DMV waiting to get your drivers license when you start to think about how nice it will be to not have to ask your mom for a ride.
  • The teacher mentions dating as an example in her lecture and you begin to drift off thinking about how nice it would be to have a girl/boyfriend
  • Your teacher mentions you have a test and then you start thinking about all the tests you have that day and you didn't hear what your teacher said when you were in the "zone".
  • When you're sitting in class and you're bored out of your mind, you start to wonder what you'll be doing after school.
  • When you are sitting in church and the pastor begins droning and your mind starts to imagine what a day in heaven would be like.

external image schoolboy-daydreaming_~042c0304pm.jpg

Additional Resources



  • In one experiment on daydreaming the researches wanted to find out what the longitudinal effects of children watching nonviolent and violent televison on the three different types of daydreaming(positive-intense, aggressive-heroic, and dysphoric). They sampled and surveyed Dutch children when they were in third and fifth grade, then resurveyed a year later. Their daydreaming in year one didnt affect their televison watching in year two, but their televison watching in year one did effect their daydreaming in year two. They also concluded that TV can repress daydreaming. Positive-intense daydreaming was found when the children watched nonviolent programs. Aggressive-heroic daydreaming was foun when the children watched violent dramatic programs.

  • In an experiment done in 1987, people were put in a room and told to verbalize their train of thought for five minutes. In the control group, the subjects were told nothing besides jsut to verbalize their thoughts. In the actual experimental group, before the five minutes began the subjects were told not to think about a "white bear". Everytime the thought of a "white bear" came across their minds they were told to ring a bell. This study showed that when humans try to suppress thoughts, they actual end up thinking about that thought more than they would if they hadn't been subjected to it in the first place. "These observations suggest that attempted thought suppression has paradoxical effects as a self-control strategy, perhaps even producing the very obsession or preoccupation that it is directed against.
  • Wegner, D. M., Schneider, D. J., Carter, S. R., & White, T. L. (1987). Paradoxical effects of thought suppression. Journal of personality and social psychology, 53(1), 5.