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Can we direct our imagination towards helpful ends?


Project Description

Recent research has indicated that people spend a considerable amount of time engaged in imaginative activity, such as daydreaming, and that at least some of that activity is useful for social functioning and well-being. This imaginative activity can involve mental simulation that is volitional as well as reactive. The question therefore arises as to whether people can be helped to direct their imagination so that it fulfils useful functions –such as enhancing empathy, social interaction, and sense of purpose– and how that can best be achieved. This doctorate will therefore draw on complementary lines of research concerning daydreaming, imagined contact, anticipated emotion and the brain’s default mode network to investigate this topic. The research is likely to use a combination of quantitative methods, including lab-based experiments and experience sampling.

Funding Notes

Self funding or sponsored students only. No University funding.

References

Waytz, A., Hershfield, H. E., & Tamir, D. I. (2015). Mental simulation and meaning in life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 108, 336-355.

Related Subjects

How good is research at University of Sheffield in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 34.45

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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