The Nature of Dreams

AQA psych unit 4 - the nature of dreams

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The Nature of Dreams
Who is dreamt about?
The dreamer is almost always personally involved.
Kahn et al (2000) found in 100 reports: 50% of characters were known to the dreamer/ About a third were generic characters
(i.e. policemen)/ Less than 1 in 6 were unknown.
What do we dream about?
Hobson (2000) PET scans show that the brain regions most associated with emotions are active during REM sleep,
the areas involved in decision making are not.
Martin (2002) Men dream about other men more than women dream about men ­ true across cultures and ages.
Content seems more negative than positive
Dreamer normally experiences an emotional detachment from the dream which is why we remain asleep unless the
content is too disturbing
Dreams aren't over in a flash, can last 20 mins so it's hard to determine because its hard to measure.
REM and NREM dreams
Dreams occur in both. REM is an active state accompanied by biological changes. REM dreams are usually weird stories
and are like a narrative. NREM dreams feel like ordinary thinking.
Antrobus (1983) When judges rated 154 REM and NREM reports for their relative `dreaminess', they correctly
identified 93% of reports as either REM or NREM.
EEG scans have also indicated that there is a neurobiological difference between REM and NREM dreams.
Lucid Dreams
Occurs during REM, have control of the dream. Dreams are vivid, tend to be pleasant and more straightforward.
Hypnagogic and Hypnopompic Dreams
Hypnagogic = sleep onset
Hypnopompic = between sleep and awake
These are very much like REM dreams but reduced.
"Screen dreams" occur in hypnagogic dreams ­ Tetris plaed, many dreamed about it.
Risk of demand characteristics
Self reported dreams ­ could be lying
Ethical issues in exposure to computer games for a long time
A02: Why are dreams so difficult to study?
Although various scales have been developed to help individuals record the content of their dreams, they're still
Many studies carried out in sleep labs ­ artificial.
Recall might not be accurate
Research using brain scanners assume we only dream during REM sleep
Data is qualitative, so harder to interpret results as different people give different meanings to them so its harder to
draw a conclusion
PET scanners are even more artificial than sleep labs.
Dement + Kleitman (1957)
9 Pps sleep labs measured which stage of sleep they were in using EOG and EEG machines.
When in REM, Pps were woken by a bell and then had to describe their dream into a microphone (immediate recall)
they were woken up about 6 times a night, Eyes weren't always in constant movement, spasms sometimes.
Duration estimated length of dream by how many words Pps used to describe it/ asked Pp to estimate length
Findings: Pps woken in REM sleep were dreaming 80% of time/ NREM = 7%. REM cycles lasted between 350 mins.
Positive corre. Between no. of words used and length of REM sleep
Distinguished differences between dreaming in REM and NREM
Only used adults & ethnocentric so can't generalise
Causation can't be inferred ­ possible the dream is causing REM
Direction eyes move in can link to what you're dreaming about i.e. eyes side to side = watching people play catch/
looking up = climbing a ladder

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