Do your daydreams contribute to social adjustment? A study examined daydreams associated with social interactions in freshmen starting college, using experience sampling, to find out.
Any incoming freshmen with a smartphone at a university in the United Kingdom were given the opportunity to participate in the study. The students answered experience sampling questions via SMS text messages about their daydreams. These questions included whether the daydreams involved social interactions, how connected they felt to the people in the daydreams, and how connected they felt to people in real life since the last signal.
At the end of the 2nd and 4th weeks of the 28-day study, the students took surveys assessing loneliness and social adaptation to the university.
The study found that
- Over the 28 days, the students’ daydreams about social interactions gradually involved more situations where they felt more connected and less lonely
- Individuals who had the personality trait of being good at dealing with emotional changes in their life (this is called having lower “social inertia”) were more likely to daydream better social outcomes, and better social adjustment during in real life the sampling period.
Social daydreams play an important role in adjusting to new social situations. Experience sampling was an especially useful method of monitoring daydreams and social interactions, because it allows for questions to be asked in the moment (for daydreams), in real life (for social interactions), and over time (monitoring how social daydreams and social adjustment change over time).
Poerio, G. L., Totterdell, P., Emerson, L. M., & Miles, E. (2016). Social Daydreaming and Adjustment: An Experience-Sampling Study of Socio-Emotional Adaptation During a Life Transition. Frontiers in psychology, 7.
If you would like more information about using smartphones for an experience study like this one, check out the LifeData system with the RealLife Exp experience sampling smartphone app.