Vacation Dreams Can Cloud Your Mind


Summer’s here, and if the only sun you get is through your boss’ window 10 cubicles away, chances are you’ve already spent some serious time contemplating when and where to spend your precious vacation days.

But those fantasies about rendezvousing to a sexier place—Brazil, anyone?—could be doing some serious damage to your decision-making capabilities, according to a new study published in the online version of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

The study found that when people fantasize about trips before they’re actually possible—like researching a month-long getaway when their vacay days are still at 2.5 weeks—they tend to overlook the negatives.

It has to do with selective information, says co-author Heather Barry Kappes of New York University. People tend to seek positive, best-case scenario information before doing any real planning, inadvertently biasing their opinion when they do decide to take action.

Kappes goes on to explain that positive thinking may not always be the best, stressing the importance of recognizing the drawbacks of imagining a positive future.

Talk about the downside of happy daydreams. Who knew that seemingly innocent cyber visits to TripAdvisor could be so dangerous? Fortunately, the study says that the bias can be counteracted if would-be daydreamers actively seek out balanced information, even before it’s time to make a decision. That way, you won’t be surprised by any unexpected downsides of the trip, like the physical component of visiting Yosemite or the presence of huge flying bugs around your beach villa.

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