Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Fun: Are you a fantasizer?

With all of the season finales happening on tv the past few weeks, I've been in a bit of a funk. I feel like some of my good friends have just taken off for a three month vacation, and I miss them already. During the Glee finale I felt like I was in New York with the New Directions, and had goosebumps when they performed at Nationals. When it was over, I kept replaying the highlights of the episode in my head. The worst is when the finales leave you with a cliffhanger - will Beckett be okay, and will Castle and Beckett ever get together on Castle? Can Leslie and Ben keep their love a secret from Chris on Parks and Recreation? Is Jack Donaghy really going to be a single dad on 30 Rock? Sometimes these cliffhangers leave me so concerned with the future of the characters that I find myself searching online for spoilers, just so I can move on with my life. And its not just TV, books do the same thing - once I start reading a book I can't put it down because I just have to know how it ends. But when I get to the end, I get a mild case of the blues and feel like I just moved towns and had to say goodbye to all my friends. I'm the girl who cries easily when she's watching sad or happy movies, grips your arm when its scary, covers her eyes when its suspenseful, and yells at the characters when they are mean or stupid.

Although I've always had this tendency to get really into the books that I read and the tv shows and movies that I watch, I never thought about it that much until I came across a scale in grad school that actually assesses this aspect of people's personalities. This scale is part of the Interpersonal Reactivity Index, which assesses four dimensions of empathy: empathic concern, personal distress, perspective taking, and our dimension of interest: fantasy, which captures the ability of people to immerse themselves in the feelings and actions of fictitious characters in books, television, movies, and plays. According to Davis (1983), people who are higher in "fantasy" are more emotionally vulnerable and show more concern for the welfare of others. They also have higher SAT verbal scores. But not to worry, being a "fantasizer" is not related to your social functioning or your self esteem.

So are you like me? Are you a fantasizer? Here are a few sample items from the scale so you can find out:

1. I daydream and fantasize, with some regularity, about things that might happen to me.
2. I really get involved with the feelings of the characters in novels.
3. After seeing a play or movie, I have felt as though I were one of the characters.

(This scale is typically rated from 0-4, with 0 = Does not describe me at all and 4 = Describes me very well).

If you'd like to take the whole Interpersonal Reactivity Index, go here to download a word doc with the whole scale.

So what'd you find out... are you a fantasizer? Is there a particular tv show, movie or book that really gets you?

The article:
Davis, M. (1983). Measuring individual differences in empathy: Evidence for a multidimensional approach. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 44 (1), 113-126 DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.44.1.113


  1. I am a fantasizer but i didn't need a test to figure that one out! LOL

  2. haha, agreed! I always knew I was that way, but I had never thought about it as a personality trait or been able to put it into words until I came across this scale. I just love that psychology has a scale for everything - even how much I get into my tv shows :)

    Thanks for reading!