Immersive and Maladaptive Daydreaming and Divergent Thinking in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Melina Jay West, Eli Somer, Inge Marie Eigsti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Little is known about the internal mental experiences of individuals with ASD. While some research suggests a limited capacity for imagination, other studies show heightened interest in fantasy and unique forms of creative thinking in ASD. This study explored daydreaming experiences in adults with ASD, with a focus on immersive daydreaming and its relation to divergent thinking abilities. Individuals with and without a diagnosis of ASD were surveyed on their daydreaming habits and completed a divergent thinking task. Experiences of immersive daydreaming were identified in 42% of adults with ASD and were related to broad ASD traits in those without a diagnosis of ASD. However, ASD diagnosis was unrelated to originality of divergent thinking, which was negatively associated with immersive daydreaming. Moreover, daydreaming experiences in ASD were diverse. A more nuanced understanding of the mental experiences in ASD may assist in the development of interventions and support for this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)372-398
Number of pages27
JournalImagination, Cognition and Personality
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • autism
  • creativity
  • daydreaming
  • imagination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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