May 26, 2011

Positive fantasies about idealized futures sap energy

by Heather Barry Kappes and Gabriele Oettingen
Positive fantasies allow people to mentally indulge in a desired future. Whereas previous research found that spontaneously generated positive fantasies about the future predict poor achievement, we examined the effect of experimentally induced positive fantasies about the future. The present four experiments identify low energy, measured by physiological and behavioral indicators, as a mechanism by which positive fantasies translate into poor achievement. Induced positive fantasies resulted in less energy than fantasies that questioned the desired future (Study 1), negative fantasies (Study 2), or neutral fantasies (Study 3). Additionally, positive fantasies yielded a larger decrease in energy when they pertained to a more rather than a less pressing need (Study 4). Results indicate that one reason positive fantasies predict poor achievement is because they do not generate energy to pursue the desired future. (more)


  1. Fine Coert, but don't you think that positive fantasie [+SFA], could help to leave our old models, to break our stereotypes (also) without to know where we are going (exactely)???
    Our managers in our Companies know that the actual models are obsolete and very few of them can preview the new one, but, generally, we are not able to leave the old road if we don't know the new one... Thatsway I'm working on the "NoModel modeling" concept and on "management coachelling" approach, in order to learn to life without model's anchors.

  2. Hi Riccardo, I think fantasizing about positive futures can be useful as long as we keep from fantasizing in terms of idealized futures. There are many indications that focusing your attention on situations in which all of your dreams have come true is actually demotivating.

    What does work, I think (and there is quite a bit of evidence for this), is to focus on and to visualize a situation which is positive and to think of it in terms of the positive behaviors that you are performing. In other words: what do you see yourself doing in this better situation? How will that help? What will others notice you doing? Etc.

    The problem is not with imagining a positive future but in an 1)ideal future, which describes only 2) outcomes instead of behaviors.

  3. Recently I read an article in NRC that making plans gives peace to the mind. Thinking it all out gives the impression to the brain that it has allready been done. (relaxing=low energie?). To make the plans come true it is necessary to think about realisation in specific, detailed thoughts.
    Marja,social psychiatric nurse, Leiden.

  4. Yeah sounds like the Secret is a bunch of BS. I wrote about this as well.


Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner