Caution: fantasising can cloud your decisions

Positive fantasies might lead people to acquire biased information—to learn more about the pros rather than the cons

girl dreaming of holiday
Fantasisng leads you to ignore the negatives of a situation

When we dream about a forthcoming event in our life, we plan everything in great detail. For instance, when we dream about a destination, we visualise the activities we will do when we get there, the places we will explore and even the food we will eat. However, the latest study yanks us back to reality.

Researchers from the New York University have found that positive fantasies that are idealised cloud judgement. "We were interested in the effects of positive fantasies—what happens when people imagine an idealised, best-case-scenario version of the future, compared to when they imagine a less idealised version,” says Heather Kappes of New York University, author of the study.

"When people are seriously considering implementing a decision like taking a trip, they often engage in careful deliberations about the pros versus cons," Kappes says. "Our work suggests that before getting to this point, positive fantasies might lead people to acquire biased information—to learn more about the pros rather than the cons. Thus, even if people deliberate very carefully on the information they've acquired, they could still make poor decisions."

People need to be aware of these effects to ensure that they acquire balanced information before it is time to make a decision, she says.

EurekAlert!

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