Personality traits and maladaptive daydreaming: Fantasy functions and themes in a multi-country sample

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In this study, we analyzed the responses of 539 adults who met an evidence-based criterion of probable maladaptive daydreaming (MD) and met the description of at least one of the following personality facets: grandiosity, separation insecurity, and anhedonia. Respondents reporting grandiosity tended to use their fantasies as a means for wish-fulfillment for power and dominance, while respondents characterized by separation insecurity fantasized more about relationships with others. Their fantasies often featured an idealized relationship, sometimes of love, or an idealized version of their own family. Separation-anxious individuals reported fantasies in which they received extra attention on account of illness, vulnerability, or neediness. Respondents who reported characteristics of anhedonia were more likely to use daydreaming as a distraction from an unpleasant reality and gravitated to fantasies experienced as rewarding. The daydreams of respondents with anhedonia tended to feature themes of escape and physical violence. Our data show that particular personality facets can uniquely distinguish the functions and contents of fantasies in MD. Our findings suggest that maladaptive daydreaming may have a compensatory role in regulating unmet personal needs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111194
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • Anhedonia
  • Fantasy themes
  • Grandiosity
  • Maladaptive daydreaming
  • Personality traits
  • Separation insecurity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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