Dement & Kleitman

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night, aware that you have been dreaming?

How easy would it be to describe the content of your dream to someone?

How accurately do you think that you could estimate how long you had been dreaming for?

  • Created by: Shannen
  • Created on: 16-03-12 10:46

Dement and Kleitman

What were the THREE hypotheses?

  • there will be a significant association between REM sleep & dreaming
  • there will be a significant positive correlation between the estimate of duration of dreams and the length of eye movement
  • there will be a significant association between the pattern of the eye movent & context of dream
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Dement and Kleitman

Describe the sample used in the study:

7 males and 2 females

5 were intensely studied (the other 4 were used as data confirmation)


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What was the experimental design used?

They used a laboratory experiment as well as observation.

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ONE limitation of this sample:

It is ethnocentric as they were all american participants.

However, in the physiological approach a small sample is not important as the assumption is that we are biologically the same.

ONE strength of this sample:

As it is a small sample you are able to study them more in depth, increasing the reliability of the results.

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Outline the procedure.

  • Subjects reported to the lab before bed time
  • They had been asked to abstain from caffeine and alcohol but had been advised to eat normally.
  • 2 electrodes were placed near the eyes
  • There were another 3 placed around the head to measure brain activity
  • Woken by a bell at various times in the night to assess dream recall
  • They recorded their own dream with a hand held tape recorder

The waking times were as follows:

2 were woken at random, 1 was woken 3x in REM sleep and 3x in Non-REM sleep, 1 woken at the whim of the experimenter and 1 was woken at random but told that it was during REM.

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What was the macheine called that measured brain waves?

EOG- Electroculogram

What was the macheine called that measured eye movement?

EEG- Electroencephalogram

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Outline the results.

  • Significantly more dreams were reported in REM sleep than Non-REM sleep
  • When dreams had failed to be recalled it was usually early on in the night
  • When subjects reporrted dreams from Non-REM sleep it was within 8 minutes of a REM sleep period
  • There is an average gap of 90 minutes between REM cycles
  • Duration of REM is 3-50 minutes
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TWO strengths and TWO weaknesses


  • They had high control eg. location, sleeping time, woken by a bell. Which means that there is high reliability found in the precise measurements of REM and non REM by EEG readings. They also showed objectivity.
  • It was useful in the sense that it helps us to understand sleep and dreams and disorders such as night terrors, giveing us a strategy of perhaps waking them before they reach REM sleep.


  • It is reductionist, dreaming is reduced to just brain activity and eye movement
  • There was low ecological validity; slept in the lab, woken from sleep by a bell, having to record dreams etc.
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What did the eye movements mean?

Vertical Movements> up and down movements in a dream such as operating a hoist.

Horizontal Movements> sideways movements in a dream such as watching tennis.

Both> talking to people that you are close to eg. Family and friends

Very little/No movement> staring at fixed objects

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