Daydreaming – IELTS Academic Reading Passage

Everyone daydreams sometimes. We sit or lie down, close our eyes and use our imagination to think about something that might happen in the future or could have happened in the past. Most daydreaming is pleasant. We would like the daydream to happen and we would be very happy if it did actually happen. We might daydream that we are in another person’s place, or doing something that we have always wanted to do, or that other people like or admire us much more than they normally do.

Daydreams are not dreams, because we can only daydream if we are awake. Also, we choose what our daydreams will be about, which we cannot usually do with dreams. With many daydreams, we know that what we imagine is unlikely to happen. At least, if it does happen, it probably will not do so in the way we want it to. However, some daydreams are about things that are likely to happen. With these, our daydreams often help us to work out what we want to do, or how to do it to get the best results. So, these daydreams are helpful. We use our imagination to help us understand the world and other people.

Daydreams can help people to be creative. People in creative or artistic careers, such as composers, novelists and filmmakers, develop new ideas through daydreaming. This is also true of research scientists and mathematicians. In fact, Albert Einstein said that imagination is more important than knowledge because knowledge is limited whereas imagination is not.

Research in the 1980s showed that most daydreams are about ordinary, everyday events. It also showed that over 75% of workers in so-called ‘boring jobs’, such as lorry drivers and security guards, spend a lot of time daydreaming in order to make their time at work more interesting. Recent research has also shown that daydreaming has a positive effect on the brain. Experiments with MRI brain scans show that the parts of the brain linked with complex problem-solving are more active during daydreaming. Researchers conclude that daydreaming is an activity in which the brain consolidates learning. In this respect, daydreaming is the same as dreaming during sleep.

Although there do seem to be many advantages with daydreaming, in many cultures it is considered a bad thing to do. One reason for this is that when you are daydreaming, you are not working. In the 19th century, for example, people who daydreamed a lot were judged to be lazy. This happened in particular when people started working in factories on assembly lines. When you work on an assembly line, all you do is one small task again and again, every time exactly the same. It is rather repetitive and, obviously, you cannot be creative. So many people decided that there was no benefit in daydreaming.

Other people have said that daydreaming leads to ‘escapism’ and that this is not healthy, either. Escapist people spend a lot of time living in a dream world in which they are successful and popular, instead of trying to deal with the problems they face in the real world. Such people often seem to be unhappy and are unable or unwilling to improve their daily lives. Indeed, recent studies show that people who often daydream have fewer close friends than other people. In fact, they often do not have any close friends at all.

Questions 1-8
Do the following statements agree with the information given in the text? For questions 1-8, write

TRUE                     if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE                  if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN        if there is no information on this

1. People usually daydream when they are walking around.
2. Some people can daydream when they are asleep.
3. Some daydreams help us to be more successful in our lives.
4. Most lorry drivers daydream in their jobs to make them more interesting.
5. Factory workers daydream more than lorry drivers.
6. Daydreaming helps people to be creative.
7. Old people daydream more than young people.
8. Escapist people are generally very happy.

Questions 9-10
Complete the sentences below. Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the text for each answer.

Writers, artists and other creative people use daydreaming to (9)……………….

The areas of the brain used in daydreaming are also used for complicated (10)…………..

Questions 11-13
Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D.

11. Daydreams are
A dreams that we have when we fall asleep in daytime.
B about things that happened that make us sad.
C often about things that we would like to happen.
D activities that only a few people are able to do.

12. In the nineteenth century, many people believed that daydreaming was
A helpful in factory work.
B a way of avoiding work.
C something that few people did.
D a healthy activity.

13. People who daydream a lot
A usually have creative jobs.
B are much happier than other people.
C are less intelligent than other people.
D do not have as many friends as other people.