Empathy, Emotion Regulation, and Creativity in Immersive and Maladaptive Daydreaming

Melina Jay West, Eli Somer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Daydreaming is important for creativity and the understanding of our minds and those of others. However, some adults daydream to such an extreme degree that the behavior becomes disruptive; a condition known as maladaptive daydreaming (MD). We propose that highly immersive daydreaming is not always maladaptive, and immersive characteristics of daydreaming may benefit emotional regulation, empathy, and creativity. This study consisted of 542 participants from 56 countries recruited online from MD and other communities. Our results revealed that the maladaptive components of MD predicted higher affective empathy, poorer emotional regulation abilities, and reduced creative output. The immersive components of daydreaming predicted higher empathy for fantasy characters and poorer emotional regulation. These results suggest that the immersive and maladaptive components of MD have distinct behavioral correlates, but that any form of immersive daydreaming is not an effective emotional regulation strategy. Implications for the planning of effective treatment for MD are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)358-373
Number of pages16
JournalImagination, Cognition and Personality
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2019.


  • creativity
  • emotion regulation
  • empathy
  • immersive daydreaming
  • maladaptive daydreaming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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