Ever heard spiritual gurus saying that it's possible to turn your imagination into reality? Well, scientists have now said that there is a certain truth to the statement.
In a new study, psychologists Christopher Davoli and Richard Abrams from Washington University have suggested that the imagination may be more effective than we think in helping us reach our goals.
In the study, a group of students searched visual displays for specific letters, which were scattered among other letters serving as distractors, and identified them as quickly as possible by pressing a button.
During the task, the students were asked to either imagine themselves holding the display monitor with both hands or with their hands behind their backs. It was emphasized that they were not to assume those poses, but just imagine them.
According to the results, simply imagining a posture may have effects that are similar to actually assuming the pose.
However, it was observed that the participants spent more time searching the display when they imagined themselves holding the monitor, compared to when they imagined themselves with their hands behind their backs.
The researchers suggest that the slower rate of searching indicates a more thorough analysis of items closer to the hands.
While previous research has shown that we spend more time looking at items close to our hands, but this is the first study claiming that merely imagining something close to our hands will cause us to pay more attention to it.
The findings, according to the researchers, indicate that our "peripersonal space" (the space around our body) can be extended into a space where an imagined posture would take us.
And the ability could be advantageous, like in determining if an action is realistic and helping us to avoid collisions.
The authors concluded that the present study confirms "an idea that has long been espoused by motivational speakers, sports psychologists, and John Lennon alike: The imagination has the extraordinary capacity to shape reality."
The study has been published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.