01
Jul
09

Dreams – What do we dream?


In 1966 Hall and Van De Castle published The Content Analysis of Dreams in which they outlined a coding system to study 1,000 dream reports from college students. It was found that people all over the world dream of mostly the same things.

However, Dream research is often accused of working from biased or otherwise inadequate samples: Maybe the people who remember dreams are different from other people? Perhaps the dreams that people remember are not an accurate sample of their actual dream life? Maybe people don’t report their dreams honestly? Aren’t the sample sizes usually too small?

Dream content analysis has been used by many different investigators in the United States, Canada, Europe, India, and Japan. Hall himself applied it to dream reports collected for him in four Latin American countries and by anthropologists in many different preliterate societies. All of these studies, incidentally, showed there was more aggression than friendliness, more misfortune than good fortune, and more negative emotion than positive emotion in dream reports from all around the world.

Personal experiences from the last day or week are frequently incorporated into dreams. (In sync with the Pshychological theory)

Emotions

The most common emotion experienced in dreams is anxiety. Other emotions include pain, abandonment, fear, joy, etc. Negative emotions are much more common than positive ones.

Sexual themes

The Hall data analysis shows that sexual dreams occur no more than 10 percent of the time and are more prevalent in young to mid teens. Another study showed that 8% of men’s and women’s dreams have sexual content. In some cases, sexual dreams may result in orgasm or nocturnal emission. These are commonly known as wet dreams.

Recurring dreams

While the content of most dreams is dreamt only once, many people experience recurring dreams—that is, the same dream narrative is experienced over different occasions of sleep. Up to 70% of females and 65% of males report recurrent dreams.

Common themes

Content-analysis studies have identified common reported themes in dreams. These include: situations relating to school, being chased, running slowly in place, falling, arriving too late, a person now alive being dead, a person who is dead being alive, teeth falling out, flying, future events such as birthdays, anniversaries, etc. (with different scenarios), embarrassing moments, falling in love with random people, failing an examination, not being able to move, not being able to focus vision, car accidents, being accused of a crime you didn’t commit, suddenly finding yourself naked, going to the toilet, and many more.

Color vs. black and white

Twelve percent of people dream only in black and white. Studies from 1915 through to the 1950s maintained that the majority of dreams were in black and white, but these results began to change in the 1960s. Today, only 4.4% of the dreams of under-25 year-olds are in black and white. Recent research has suggested that those changing results may be linked to the switch from black-and-white film and TV to color media.

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