Daydreaming, Mind Wandering & Intelligence

Are you, your child or someone you know easily distracted, absent minded, head in the clouds, always looking out of the window daydreaming? If so, there is some scientific research that suggests daydreamers and those who suffer with mind wandering could be more intelligent than the average person.

Day Dreamers

Psychologists and researches that have studied this type of absent minded individual has shown that they may have a higher working memory than most. A high working memory allows them to focus on more than one thing at the same time.

David Levinson a psychologist published the research in Psychological Science. It shows the connection between those who are easily distracted, or absent mindedness and cognitive ability/intelligence. Many of the greatest minds of the past have been described as absent minded, including Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton.

Those who often day dream and let their minds wander, these people tend to perform better with tasks that require creative thinking, and they also score higher on intelligence tests. MRI scans have also shown that those who often engage in day dreaming or mind wandering have more efficient brains while resting.

Daydreaming Kids & School

If this describes your child, you may be worried or concerned, they are probably not doing well at school because they are often in their own fantasy land. You may have difficulty getting them to do things around the house and they’re constantly distracted.

They don’t fit into the normalities of behaviour, and you are perhaps concerned about their future. This is understandable; however, don’t judge too quickly. You may actually have a child that is gifted with an immersive imagination, they may also be somewhat of a genius.

The daydreamer is not usually a great student. Sitting in a class room doing math or English for an hour may feel incredibly mundane, and their minds naturally expand out of the class room. Partial, or a small amount of attention may be in the math class, and the rest is spent in their imagination, daydreaming and looking out of the window. This can obviously make them poor performers in school, and it’s easy for teachers and parents to believe they are not too bright, or have learning difficulties. The truth however, could be very much the opposite.    

Daydreaming in part is likely a sign of boredom; they need stimulation, which they don’t get in the class room, and perhaps at home. This naturally leads to being absent-minded, or being somewhat spacey in temperament and detached from the current moment.

If you want them to reach their potential, then help them to discover their interests, and to focus on those. They probably have a great many interests ranging from the aesthetic and creative, to science, computing, and philosophy.

Personality traits of the daydreamer


Being very high on the openness trait on the five factor model of personality is an explanation from the study of personality psychology. This in part explains their behaviour.    

Introverted intuitive

The depth psychologist Carl Jung engaged in work on personality types, and describes the introverted intuitive type as a usual person. He describes an introverts intuitions, as an intuition that comes from the “subjective factor, or the inner world, which is very difficult to understand”. This could also be a part explanation of their unique demeanor.

The daydreamer is an unconventional animal which often lives in and creates their own realities. If you want to understand them you can’t judge them in a conventional, traditional, or conservative manner.

The majority sets the standard or norms for how we judge others, what we value, what’s good and bad, and our common perceptions of reality. The daydreamer as a minority won’t fit into these norms, and therefore is frequently misunderstood.


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