October 02, 2022

Psychological research: people who are in a daze are smarter

Psychologists’ research on daze/wandering children can be traced back to more than a hundred years ago, and William James, the father of American psychology, has seen the important role of wandering.

Although many studies point to the negative aspects of mind-shifting, such as negative emotions and maladjustment, psychologists have indeed found benefits related to mind-shifting. Below, let us look at daze and distraction from another angle.

1. You spend half the time today

In psychology, a series of related concepts such as distraction and distraction are defined as Mind Wandering. Mind wandering is a self-generated mental activity that has nothing to do with stimulation, which means that this mental activity has nothing to do with the current task. Research shows that during our waking hours, we spend nearly half of our time mentally wandering. Whether you want to admit it or not, our brains really can’t always concentrate.

Researcher Jonathan Schooler once asked subjects to spend 45 minutes reading, and in the process tested how often they wandered. It was found that the average number of subjects wandering reached 6.6 times.

With our minds knowing that we need to concentrate on research, there are still so many times of wandering, let alone when we review an exam or read a book in private. Seeing this, are you on a short run to breathe a sigh of relief?

2. The more distracted, the better the creativity

Psychologists have discovered that distraction may increase our creativity.

Baird and others of the University of California, Santa Barbara have done research on mental migration and creativity. In the study, subjects were divided into three groups, and all subjects had to complete two creativity tests. There was a 12-minute interval between the two tests. During this time, the three groups performed different tasks to trigger different levels of distraction.

It was found that after the interval, compared with the first creativity test, the subjects with the highest increase in creativity in the second test came from the group with the highest level of distraction. In other words, the large number of distractions may be the reason for increased creativity.

Baird explained that in the process of mental wandering, the brain’s Executive and Default Networks interacted. In other cognitive processes, this interaction is less. So when thinking is roaming, it is very likely that the collision of these two systems promotes the “incubation” of creativity.

Secondly, the process of mind wandering enhances Unconscious Associative Processing, and this process promotes the generation of novel ideas or unconventional solutions.

In general, when we are wandering, there is a collision between different neural networks in the brain. Our thoughts did not follow the established path, but randomly wandered and explored in the vast unknown territory. This ups and downs of randomness provided a spark for creativity. If you are lucky, you might be on which tree-lined trail I caught the exciting “good idea.”

This may be why artists always do something unthinkable but not related to their own professions to seek inspiration. When they are not focused, their spirits are soaring and thinking is roaming, and the moment of inspiration comes. It’s easy.

3. People who like to walk away think further

Relevant studies have shown that the longer the time spent distracting, the longer people’s perspective may be.

The concept of Delay Discounting is widely used in economics, psychology and other fields, and represents the degree to which the value of rewards is greatly reduced over time.

If people are allowed to choose between a smaller but immediate reward and a larger but time-consuming reward, those with higher delay discounts will be more inclined to the former. This means that people are willing to sacrifice long-term goals to gain short-term benefits.

Psychologist Jonathan Smallwood studied the relationship between wandering and delayed discounts. In this 2013 study, Smallwood induced different levels of “task-independent thinking” (which can be understood as the degree of distraction). Then measure the degree of their delay discount, such as getting 500 yuan immediately or 800 yuan a week later.

It was found that subjects with more task-independent thinking were more likely to choose 800 yuan a week later. In other words, the longer the subjects were distracted, the longer they were willing to wait for greater rewards in the future.

This study explains that when an individual is distracted, what he thinks in his mind is isolated from the external environment. For example, if you are completing an experimental task, you may be distracted and wonder whether 500 yuan or 800 yuan is better for you.

This kind of self-generated thoughts just means that people let go of their attention to “events happening at this moment”, avoid the interference of these events, and thus focus on personal-related issues and think more patiently and comprehensively. The good and bad things and how to choose to get long-term benefits.

In addition, according to the previously introduced study on mind-shifting and creativity, the process of mind-shifting may also allow people to discover new and wonderful ideas beyond the options. Therefore, a distracted person may be able to formulate a long-term plan full of novelty and restrained rationality (doesn’t it sound great!)

4. When you are wandering, you are solving problems

In addition, the content of mind-shifting reflects the current events that people are most concerned about, which may be unresolved, worrying or hopeful things. Many times daydreams happen unconsciously. Our brain always seems to be fidgeting and eager to try before consciousness. For example, when you don’t know when your focus shifts from mathematical formulas to those who have been struggling for a long time, whether to buy a fitness card The problem.

The capacity of human consciousness is very limited. Processing several kinds of information at the same time may occupy cognitive resources, while the capacity of unconsciousness is very broad. Therefore, one of the adaptive functions of mind-shifting is to connect consciousness and unconsciousness and drive those who are concerned. The things that come into the minds of individuals actively allow people to consciously solve them, which causes people to get distracted.

From this point of view, distraction can essentially be a way of solving problems.