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Dream emotions, waking emotions, personality characteristics and well-being--A positive psychology approach.

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The study aimed to discover whether personality characteristics and waking emotions relate to dreaming emotions. There were 123 participants ranging in age from 17 to 82 years. It was hypothesised that participants with significant positive emotional trait and state ratings in waking life would experience more positive dreams. Data collection utilized diaries and questionnaires including Hartmann’s Boundary Questionnaire, IPIP Emotional Stability Scale, Staats’ Hope Scale, Adult Dispositional Hope Scale, and the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule to assess personality and attitudinal characteristics. Participants recorded and rated their waking and dream emotions over a three-week period. Median correlations between corresponding waking and dream emotions were .58 for positive emotions and .47 for negative emotions. There were also low but significant correlations between some personality characteristics and participants’ tendency to experience positive or negative emotions in dreams.
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Dream Emotions, Waking Emotions, Personality
Characteristics and Well-Being—A Positive Psychology
Approach
Sue Gilchrist and John Davidson
University of Tasmania
Jane Shakespeare-Finch
Queensland University of Technology
The study aimed to discover whether personality characteristics and waking
emotions relate to dreaming emotions. There were 123 participants, ranging
in age from 17 to 82 years. It was hypothesized that participants with
significant positive emotional trait and state ratings in waking life would
experience more positive dreams. Data collection utilized diaries and ques-
tionnaires, including Hartmann’s Boundary Questionnaire, IPIP Emotional
Stability Scale, Staats’ Hope Scale, Adult Dispositional Hope Scale, and the
Positive and Negative Affect Schedule to assess personality and attitudinal
characteristics. Participants recorded and rated their waking and dream
emotions over a 3-week period. Median correlations between corresponding
waking and dream emotions were .58 for positive emotions and .47 for
negative emotions. There were also low, but significant correlations between
some personality characteristics and participants’ tendency to experience
positive or negative emotions in dreams.
Keywords: dreams, emotions, personality, well-being
The relationship between dream emotions and waking personality character-
istics has been investigated by many researchers. However, the emphasis has
tended to be on negative characteristics and negative dreams. The relationship of
positive characteristics to positive dreams has rarely been explored. In addition,
there has been little research into the relationship between waking emotions and
dream emotions. The present study addresses this gap in the current literature using
the multiple methods of dream diaries, waking logs of emotions, and a survey
battery.
Sue Gilchrist and John Davidson, School of Psychology, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Aus-
tralia; Jane Shakespeare-Finch, School of Psychology and Counselling, Queensland University of
Technology, Brisbane, Australia.
We acknowledge the assistance of Sarah Staats and Dave Watson in providing guidance on the
scoring of the Staats Hope Scale and the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule respectively. We also
acknowledge the assistance of Sarah Parish in data entry.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Sue Gilchrist, School of Psychol-
ogy, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 30, Hobart, TAS 7001, Australia. E-mail: sag@postoffice
.utas.edu.au
172
Dreaming Copyright 2007 by the American Psychological Association
2007, Vol. 17, No. 3, 172–185 1053-0797/07/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/1053-0797.17.3.172
DREAM EMOTIONS, PERSONALITY CHARACTERISTICS, AND
WELL-BEING RESEARCH
Blagrove, Farmer, and Williams (2004) recruited 147 participants from the
university population to record their dreams for 2 weeks when they explored the
connection of frequent unpleasant dreams in comparison to frequent nightmares as
an indicator of low well-being. They used measures to assess negative traits of
neuroticism, anxiety, and depression, as well as acute stress and psychopathology,
and a 14-night dream log for recording the occurrence of and rating the unpleas-
antness of dreams. Unpleasantness was used as a “catch-all” for negative emotions.
Blagrove et al. found correlations between low well-being and the likelihood of
experiencing unpleasant dreams frequently. They also found associations between
anxiety, depression, neuroticism, acute stress, and the waking trait of nightmare
distress. The study did not examine the relationship between positive dreams and
personality traits or the connection between waking emotions and dreaming emo-
tions.
Schredl (2003) also concentrated primarily on negative dreams, in particular
the effects of state and trait factors on nightmare frequency. He reported that
people suffering waking stress are more likely to experience negative dreams and
that state is a more relevant indicator of the potential for negative dreaming than
trait factors. His findings support the continuity hypothesis that “the concerns
people express in their dreams are the concerns that they have in waking life. What
they dream about is also what they think about or do when they are awake,” (Hall,
1953, cited in Domhoff, 1996; p. 153). The participants in Schredl’s study kept
dream diaries for only two weeks, recording a maximum of five dreams, but he
acknowledged that there is a need for further longitudinal studies.
Hartmann (1991, 1998) contended that intense emotion in dreams—whether
negative or positive—is a representation of emotion in waking life. He suggested
that dominant images within dreams are a contextualization of strong emotions
experienced in waking life. Hartmann’s Boundary Questionnaire (1991) measures
“the degree of separateness (thick boundaries) versus connection (thin boundaries)
between a broad range of mental functions, processes, and entities” (Hartmann,
Rosen, & Rand, 1998, p. 32). He found that sensitive, vulnerable, and creative
people who have thin mental boundaries tend to recall dreams more easily and that
their dream content is more vivid and detailed.
Assessing the relationship between nightmares, bad dreams, and well-being,
Zadra and Donderi (2000) found that people who experience bad dreams fre-
quently were low on self-reported measures of well-being. They also identified large
discrepancies in numbers of negative dreams reported by retrospective question-
naires when compared to dream diaries, which were completed every day over a
1-month period. As well as negative dreams, their participants were asked to record
two types of positive dreams: flying dreams and lucid dreams. The positive dream
data were used only to examine whether retrospective measures (i.e., question-
naires estimating the numbers of dreams experienced in the previous 12 months)
were as inaccurate for positive dreams as for negative ones. The positive dream
data were not used in any analysis of the relationship to well-being.
When carrying out experiments exploring positive and negative affectivity in
dreams, Kallmeyer and Chang (1998, p. 219) posited that “the emotional content in
Dreams, Emotions, Personality, and Well-Being 173
dreams might be an important variable in individual differences.” They used the
PANAS-X to measure joviality, self-assurance, attentiveness, serenity, and surprise
as indicators of positive affect within dream content, with fear, hostility, guilt,
sadness, shyness and fatigue as indicators of negative affect within dream content.
Participants were asked if they experienced mainly positive or mainly negative
dreams. The research obtained significant correlations between self-classified pos-
itive or negative dreamers and elements of positive or negative affectivity in dream
content when recorded in dream logs over 4 weeks. While this study looked at both
positive and negative affect in dreams, they did not do any testing for correlation
of dream content to affect or emotions in waking life.
St-Onge, Lortie-Lussier, Mercier, et al. (2005) reported on the incidence and
valence of dream emotions and waking life satisfaction in their study comparing
young and late-adulthood women. Both home and laboratory dreams were in-
cluded. They found greater negative emotions and intensity of emotions recorded
in the home dreams. However, no significant relationship between dream emotions
and life satisfaction was found.
DREAMING AND WAKING EMOTIONS
Theorists have suggested different ways of classifying emotions (Ekman, 1993;
Isen, 2000; Ortony, Clore, & Collins, 1988; Plutchik, 1962; Watson, 2002), generally
proposing between 7 and 10 basic emotions. Research has found more negative
emotions present in dreams than in waking (Nielsen, Deslauriers, & Baylor, 1991).
Domhoff (1996, 2001), in analyzing dreams, identified four main negative categories
of emotions: Anger; Apprehension or Fear; Sadness; and Confusion or Shock.
According to Fredrickson (2002), positive emotions in waking life are outnumbered
by negative ones and, again, she defines four categories of positive emotions: Joy or
Happiness; Love; Contentment; and Interest or Excitement. For the purposes of
this study, in which we wished participants to rate both positive and negative
emotions for duration and intensity during waking and dreaming without placing
too onerous a burden upon them, it was decided to combine the Frederickson and
Domhoff categories of emotions as listed above.
The gaps in research to date are investigations of the relationship between
dream emotions and waking emotions and between dream emotions and well-
being. Well-being is related to positive personality characteristics and attitudes,
such as happiness, optimism, hope, life satisfaction, and interest in understanding
life. These have been determined through positive psychology where the emphasis
has been on identifying and developing characteristics and attitudes that nurture
positive development (Compton, 2005). Positive psychologists have also identified
that there is a correlation between the frequency of experiencing positive emotions,
positive affect, and optimism with self-reported happiness, life satisfaction, and
emotional well-being (Diener & Lucas, 2000; Fredrickson, 2001; Fredrickson &
Joiner, 2002; Isen, 2000; Scheier, Carver, & Bridges, 2001).
Previously, there has been limited research into the relationship between
waking emotions and dream emotions. A thorough review of the literature failed to
locate any studies correlating diary measures of both dreaming and waking emo-
tions. The emphasis of previous research has tended to be on negative personality
174 Gilchrist, Davidson, and Shakespeare-Finch
characteristics in relationship to negative dreams. The value of positive character-
istics in relationship to positive dreams has rarely been explored.
THE PRESENT STUDY
The study was designed to discover whether a propensity to construe dream
content as positive or negative correlated to personality characteristics, measures of
well-being, and state measures of mood and emotion. It involved an exploration of
the connection between positive & negative dreams to positive and negative waking
emotions, personality characteristics, and well-being, addressed in a quantitative
manner. We used a collection of questionnaires designed to measure both positive
and negative personality characteristics and attitude to life as tools to measure trait
and well-being. As a measure of state, participants were required to complete daily
logs recording emotions experienced during waking and in dreams, rating the
emotions for both intensity and duration.
HYPOTHESES
Hypothesis 1: It was predicted that negative personality measures for neurot-
icism and negative affect would be positively correlated with the negative dream
emotions of anger, apprehension or fear, sadness, and confusion or shock and that
positive personality and attitudinal measures for optimism, hope, life satisfaction,
positive affect, and need for cognition would positively correlate with the positive
dream emotions of joy or happiness, love, contentment, and interest or excitement.
Hypothesis 2: It was predicted that there would be positive relationships
between waking emotions and the same or related dream emotions.
Hypothesis 3: It was expected that data on waking emotions would augment
the capacity of personality characteristics to predict dream emotions.
METHOD
Participants
Initially, participants were recruited from the University of Tasmania under-
graduate psychology student population. First year psychology students were
awarded 2 hours credit in return for their participation; other psychology students
participated purely out of interest. Members of the general public were recruited
via external publicity: posters in public places (libraries, sport centers, shopping
malls, and public notice boards), articles in the media, and word of mouth. The
researchers were particularly interested in gaining data from people occupying a
wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds, spread over a large geographical area
and from a variety of communities. The participants ranged in age from 17 to 82
years of age (average 38.5 years). One hundred and 48 dream diaries/waking
emotions logs were issued. Of these, 128 were returned, five of which could not be
used because of a misunderstanding of instructions, leaving a total of 123 partici-
Dreams, Emotions, Personality, and Well-Being 175
pants (f 94, m 29) for this study. Of the 123 diaries used, 56 (46%) were from
students and 67 (54%) were members of the general public.
Materials
At the end of an induction session during which the study was explained in full,
participants completed a personality characteristics and well-being questionnaire
pack which consisted of the following:
The Short Boundary Questionnaire (BQ Sh; Rawlings, 2002), comprising 45
self-descriptive statements requiring yes or no responses. It includes two nonscored
filler statements. Sample statements are “My dreams are so vivid that even later I
can’t tell them from waking reality” (thin) and “I like stories that have a definite
beginning, middle and end” (thick). This questionnaire, adapted from Hartmann’s
original 145-item boundary questionnaire, measures the degree of separateness
(thick boundary) versus connectedness (thin boundary) between a broad range of
mental functions and processes. Thin (connected) mental boundaries are an indi-
cator of the potential for emotion in dreams and also a predictor of negative
dreams; Rawlings (2002) confirmed that the short boundary questionnaire corre-
lated strongly with Hartmann’s original boundary questionnaire (r.88) and
reported a consistency (Cronbach’s alpha) of .74 for the shorter version.
The Life Orientation Test -Revised (LOT-R; Scheier, Carver, & Bridges, 1994)
is a self-report measure of optimistic orientation, but can also be used to yield both
optimism and pessimism scores. It comprises 10 self-descriptive statements format-
ted on 5-point scales with end-point designations ranging from disagree a lot (1) to
agree a lot (5). Four statements are fillers that are not scored; three items are
negatively phrased while three are positively phrased. Sample items include “If
something can go wrong for me it will” (negative) and “I am always optimistic
about my future” (positive). The scale has acceptable reliability, for example,
Scheier et al. (1994) reported a Cronbach’s alpha .78.
The Staats Hope Scale (SHS; Staats & Stassen, 1985) comprises 16 items
representing two subscales: Hope for Self and Hope for Others. Participants rate
their wish for a specific item and their expectation for the same item on 6-point
scales with end-point designations ranging from not at all (0) to very much (5). The
prefix designating the time over which the items were scored was adjusted to suit
the measures needed for the present study and hence “in the foreseeable future”
was used. Sample items were “To what extent do you wish/expect to have good
health” (hope for self) and “To what extent do you wish/expect peace in the world”
(hope for others). Staats (1989) reports alphas ranging from .72 to .85.
The Adult Dispositional Hope Scale (ADHS; Snyder et al., 1991) consists of 12
self-descriptive statements, four of which were nonscored fillers. Participants rate
themselves against a 4-point Likert type scale ranging from definitely false (1) to
definitely true (4) as predictors of positive attitude to life. Sample statements
include, “My past experiences have prepared me well for my future” and “There
are lots of ways around any problem.” Alphas of .74 to .84 were reported by Snyder,
Harris, et al. (1991).
As a measure of psychological well-being the Satisfaction with Life Scale
(SWLS; Diener, Emmons, Larsen, & Griffin, 1985) was used. This scale has five
176 Gilchrist, Davidson, and Shakespeare-Finch
items rated against a 4-point scale ranging from definitely false (1) to definitely true
(4). Statements include, “In most ways my life is close to ideal” and “If I could live
my life over, I would change almost nothing.” Lucas, Diener, and Larsen (2003)
reported moderate correlations with positive emotions.
The Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS; Watson, Clark, &
Tellegen, 1988) was used to measure affect experienced by participants during the
previous week. The time frame was adjusted to suit the measures needed for this
study. PANAS uses 10 positive and 10 negative emotions. Participants indicated
against a 5-point scale, with end-points of very slightly or not at all (1) to extremely
(5), the extent to which they had experienced the listed emotions during the
previous week. Watson et al. (1988) report alphas of .86 to .90 for Positive Affect
(PA) with alphas for Negative Affect (NA) being .84 to .87; alpha estimates of NA
.85, PA .88, were reported by Fredrickson and Joiner (2002).
The International Personality Item Pool measurement of neuroticism (IPIP;
Peabody & Goldberg, 1989) was used on the basis that low scores for neuroticism
act as an indicator of emotional stability. It comprises 10 self-descriptive state-
ments. Five statements indicate high neuroticism with five indicating low neuroti-
cism. The statements include, “I experience my emotions intensely” and “I don’t
understand people who get emotional.” Rating is formatted on 5-point scales with
end-point designations ranging from disagree a lot (1) to agree a lot (5) with five
items being reverse scored. The scale has an alpha range of .72 to .84 according to
Gosling, Rentfrow, and Swann (2003).
The Need for Cognition Scale (NFCS; Cacioppo, Petty, & Kao, 1984) was used
to assess the participant’s tendency to engage in and enjoy recording and/or
discussing dreams, as well as an interest in understanding life. The NFCS has two
subscales for complex thinking and simple thinking. It consists of 18 statements;
participants indicate if each of the statement applies to them or not with yes or no
responses. There are nine statements indicating complex thinking and nine indi-
cating simple thinking. Example statements include, “I find satisfaction in deliber-
ating hard and for long hours” (complex) and “It’s enough for me that someone
gets the job done; I don’t care how or why it works” (simple). The NFCS has been
found to be a reliable measure (e.g., Hill et al., 2001; Wegener, Clark, & Petty,
2006).
The Emotions Log/Dream Diary (ELDD) consisted of back-to-back sheets
used by participants before going to sleep to record and rate key daytime events,
predominant waking thoughts, and the intensity and duration of emotions experi-
enced during waking hours. Participants also recorded details of dreams and
intensity and duration of dream emotions experienced during sleeping were re-
corded and rated overleaf upon awaking. If dream content could not be recalled but
emotions were present upon waking, participants were asked to record those
emotions. Emotions were recorded under four negative categories (Anger; Appre-
hension/Fear; Sadness; Confusion/Shock) and four positive categories (Joy/Happi-
ness; Love; Contentment; Interest/Excitement). These were rated on 8-point scales
with end-points of not at all (0) to intense (7) for intensity of emotion and end points
of not at all (0) to all of the time (7) for duration of emotion.
Dreams, Emotions, Personality, and Well-Being 177
Procedure
Information packs were issued to university psychology students or posted to
members of the public responding to posters or articles in the media. To safeguard
confidentiality and ensure impartiality in data processing, at the time information
packs were dispatched, all respondents were issued with an identity number.
Every participant was required to undertake an induction session during which
they were introduced to the Emotions Log/Dream Diary and given instructions on
when they should be completed. In particular, the scoring of emotions for intensity
and duration on the 8-point scales was explained with examples of how they might
be completed. The categories of emotions were explained and lists giving examples
of emotions that might fall under each category were provided. There was a
question and answer session at which participants’ concerns or misunderstandings
were addressed by the researcher. Participants then had to confirm that they
understood and were happy with the conditions for participation in the study and
wanted to continue. Those continuing (128 out of 130 attendees) then completed
the battery of personality characteristic/attitude to life questionnaires. On comple-
tion of the questionnaires, they were issued with a waking emotions log/dream diary
that was to be completed at home over the next three weeks. Participants dated
each of the Emotions Log/Dream Diary pages and recorded waking activities and
emotions and dream descriptions and emotions experienced. After three weeks, the
packs were returned.
RESULTS
The data on emotions comprised ratings of both intensity and duration of eight
waking and dream emotions each rated daily on an 8-point scale. Mean values were
determined for each participant on each measure over the 3-week period, excluding
missing values (e.g., when no dream was recorded on a particular night). Average
values were also obtained for the four negative and the four positive emotions to
permit a more global level of analysis of emotion. Correlations between the
measures of intensity and duration were generally high and varied from .69 (for
anger) to .95 (for contentment), with a median of .91 for the dream emotions, and
.85 to .94 for the waking emotions, with a median of .93. The only correlation below
.80 was for anger in dreams. Because the correlations were so high, it was decided
that it would not be informative to perform parallel analyses for intensity and
duration, and the ratings of intensity and duration were averaged to provide a single
score for each participant’s rating of a waking or dreaming emotion averaged over
the three weeks of recording. In addition, it was decided to analyze scores for
positive and negative emotionality obtained by averaging the scores for the four
positive and four negative emotions respectively.
Personality Characteristics and Dream Emotions
It was hypothesized that there would be significant correlations between
“negative” personality measures and negative dream emotions and “positive”
178 Gilchrist, Davidson, and Shakespeare-Finch
personality characteristics and positive dream emotions. As the emotion ratings
may be affected by individual differences in overall emotional responsiveness and
any biases in the rating procedure toward using higher or lower ratings and noting
an unexpectedly high correlation of .52 between totals of positive and negative
emotions based on both waking and dreaming ratings, it was decided to also
determine adjusted correlations after partialing out the positive emotion total from
each of the negative emotions and the negative emotion total from each of the
positive emotions. The ordinary and adjusted correlations are shown in Table 1. To
control for Type I errors with so many correlations, only those significant at the one
percent level are highlighted. Correlations of .19 are significant at p.05, but are
not specifically identified as 12 would be expected in uncorrelated random data.
Overall, the correlations were low and of marginal psychological significance
with none greater than .30. Neuroticism (emotional stability) was significantly
related to dream apprehension and sadness, but the adjusted correlations were not
significant. After adjustment, optimism was negatively related to dream apprehen-
sion. Also, after adjustment, there was a significant relationship between satisfac-
tion with life and joy in dreams, and significant negative relationships with dream
apprehension and sadness. The self subscale of the Staats Hope scale reflecting
hope for oneself was unexpectedly significantly negatively related to dream excite-
ment and confusion, but these correlations were no longer significant after adjust-
ment. The Simple subscale of the NFCS was significantly related to dream excite-
ment both before and after adjustment.
Waking Emotions and Dream Emotions
The second set of hypotheses concerned the expectation of positive relation-
ships between waking emotions and the same or related dream emotions. The
correlations between ratings of waking and dream emotions (both averaged over a
three week period) were determined as well as a parallel set of adjusted correla-
tions as in the previous analysis. The ordinary and adjusted correlations are shown
in Table 2.
Consistent with expectations, the majority of ordinary correlations were mod-
erate to high and significant, though difficult to interpret because of positive
correlations between some positive and negative emotions. After adjustment, all
the significant positive correlations were between positive waking and positive
dream emotions and between negative waking and negative dream emotions, with
some significant negative correlations between positive and negative emotions. The
ordinary correlations between the corresponding waking and dreaming emotions
ranged from .44 to .74. The adjusted correlations between corresponding waking
and dream emotions ranged from .36 to .62. The highest correlation with each
dreaming emotion was most frequently the corresponding waking emotion. The
only exceptions were dream confusion, which was almost equally related to waking
excitement and waking confusion (though the relationship to excitement disap-
peared after adjustment), and dream love, which was almost equally related to
waking love and waking joy (both before and after adjustment).
Dreams, Emotions, Personality, and Well-Being 179
Table 1. Correlations Between Personality Characteristics and Ratings of Positive and Negative Dream Emotions, and the Correlations After Adjustment for
Overall Emotionality (italicized; N123)
Positive emotions Negative emotions
Joy Cont Love Exci Pos Ang App Sad Conf Neg
Neuroticism .11 .01 .07 .02 .22 .12 .17 .03 .17 .05 .06 .02 .24 .17 .30 .22 .10 .03 .22 .12
Optimism .03 .08 .09 .12 .04 .10 .11 .22 .08 .17 .06 .11 .19 .25 .03 .08 .00 .07 .09 .18
Satisfaction
with life
.01 .13 .19 .25 .02 .17 .02 .18 .06 .23 .04 .01 .22 .29 .20 .29 .08 .18 .16 .28
ADHS .04 .06 .11 .12 .06 .08 .16 .21 .12 .15 .03 .08 .16 .23 .03 .10 .03 .05 .06 .16
Boundary
thinness
.17 .11 .09 .05 .11 .02 .21 .11 .18 .09 .03 .09 .04 .10 .22 .18 .11 .04 .08 .01
PANAS
positive
.05 .01 .04 .01 .00 .07 .01 .10 .03 .05 .07 .09 .11 .13 .12 .15 .08 .12 .12 .17
PANAS
negative
.03 .02 .08 .01 .06 .01 .16 .11 .05 .00 .09 .06 .05 .02 .16 .13 .19 .17 .16 .13
Staats
hope-self
.11 .01 .07 .02 .14 .01 .30 .17 .19 .06 .02 .02 .17 .14 .15 .11 .24 .21 .21 .17
Staats
hope-other
.01 .05 .08 .06 .03 .04 .11 .02 .07 .00 .01 .02 .10 .10 .10 .10 .11 .11 .11 .11
Staats
hope-total
.06 .03 .09 .04 .09 .02 .22 .10 .15 .03 .00 .02 .15 .13 .14 .12 .19 .18 .18 .16
NFCS-complex .16 .15 .03 .02 .06 .04 .20 .20 .14 .13 .05 .01 .00 .04 .05 .10 .10 .05 .04 .02
NFCS-simple .09 .04 .01 .01 .07 .01 .28 .25 .15 .09 .00 .06 .06 .00 .03 .03 .13 .05 .08 .00
Note. Full identifiers for dream emotions are: Joy, Contentment, Love, Excitement, Positive (Average), Anger, Apprehension, Sadness, Confusion, Negative
(Average). The ratings used were averages over a 3-week period. To determine the adjusted correlations (shown in italics) the ratings for the positive and negative
emotions were adjusted by partialling out the average of all negative emotion ratings from the positive emotions and the average of all positive emotion ratings from
the negative emotions to correct for response bias in the use of the scale and for overall emotionality. Correlations significant at the p.01 level are shown in bold
type. Full identifiers for measures of personality characteristics are: ADHS Adult Dispositional Hope Scale, PANAS Positive and Negative Affect Schedule;
NFCS Need for Cognition Scale.
180 Gilchrist, Davidson, and Shakespeare-Finch
Table 2. Correlations Between Waking Emotions and Dream Emotions, and Adjusted Correlations After Correcting for Total Emotionality (italicized; N
123)
Waking
emotions
Positive dream emotions Negative dream emotions
Joy Cont Love Exci Pos Ang App Sad Conf Neg
Joy .59 .53 .32 .27 .56 .48 .52 .40 .61 .53 .26 .15 .31 .22 .28 .27 .41 .22 .41 .30
Contentment .24 .20 .51 .49 .29 .25 .29 .26 .40 .39 .22 .03 .13 .18 .17 .16 .28 .11 .26 .17
Love .35 .23 .29 .24 .57 .47 .54 .40 .53 .41 .29 .13 .24 .34 .31 .27 .32 .37 .37 .40
Excitement .46 .32 .28 .22 .51 .36 .74 .62 .62 .48 .23 .26 .36 .29 .39 .26 .49 .23 .49 .35
Positive
average
.51 .41 .44 .41 .61 .51 .66 .54 .68 .59 .32 .18 .32 .34 .37 .31 .47 .31 .48 .40
Anger .34 .09 .10 .22 .30 .18 .32 .24 .33 .23 .46 .38 .28 .17 .26 .13 .31 .15 .40 .26
Apprehension .11 .25 .03 .25 .18 .24 .38 .12 .20 .27 .15 .10 .44 .41 .41 .38 .28 .23 .42 .40
Sadness .22 .27 .17 .17 .40 .13 .38 .27 .36 .27 .27 .18 .37 .28 .51 .43 .41 .29 .50 .40
Confusion .23 .29 .25 .10 .32 .26 .46 .20 .39 .27 .10 .03 .37 .27 .42 .32 .48 .36 .47 .34
Negative
average
.28 .32 .15 .25 .39 .28 .51 .27 .41 .36 .30 .19 .49 .40 .54 .45 .49 .35 .59 .49
Note. Full identifiers for dream emotions are: Joy, Contentment, Love, Excitement, Positive (Average), Anger, Apprehension, Sadness, Confusion, Negative
(Average). The ratings used were averages over a three-week period. To determine the adjusted correlations (shown in italics) the ratings for the positive and
negative emotions were adjusted by partialling out the average of all negative emotion ratings from the positive emotions and the average of all positive emotion
ratings from the negative emotions to correct for response bias in the use of the scale and for overall emotionality. Correlations significant at the p.01 level are
shown in bold type.
Dreams, Emotions, Personality, and Well-Being 181
Personality Characteristics, Waking Emotions, and Dream Emotions
The third set of hypotheses concerned the relationship between personality
characteristics, waking emotions, and dream emotions. It was predicted that data on
waking emotions would augment the capacity of personality characteristics to
predict dream emotions. To assess the additional variance accounted for in pre-
dicting dream emotions from these two sets of variables, regression analyses were
performed. At the first step, personality variables were included if they reached the
one percent significance level. At step two, waking emotions were entered using the
stepwise procedure if they met the same criterion. Because of the stronger rela-
tionship between dreaming and waking emotions, it is possible for regression
coefficients () to be significant at step one, but no longer to make a significant
contribution at step two after the inclusion of waking emotions. Accordingly both
sets of beta values are shown in Table 3. Because of the different levels of analysis,
individual emotions were used as dependent variables and predictors together, and
Table 3. Regression Analyses Predicting Dream Emotions From Personality Characteristics and
Waking Emotions (N123)
Dependent variable
P
P&WE
R
2
Predictors
Dream joy .59
**
.35 Waking joy
Dream contentment .50
**
Waking contentment
.23
**
.31 Waking confusion
Dream love .26
**
Waking love
.34
**
Waking joy
.22
**
.43 Waking sadness
Dream excitement .40
**
.28
**
Staats hope-self
.29
**
.13
*
.16 ADHS
.57
**
Waking excitement
.20
**
.63 Waking joy
Dream anger .46
**
.21 Waking anger
Dream apprehension .24
**
.12 .06 Emotional stability
.42
**
Waking apprehension
.28
**
.30 Waking joy
Dream sadness .30
**
.18
*
.09 Emotional stability
.38
**
Waking sadness
.25
**
.34 Waking excitement
Dream confusion .28
**
.14 Staats hope-self
.25
**
.17
*
.11 PANAS negative
.20
*
Waking excitement
.33
**
Waking confusion
.22
**
.38 Waking contentment
Dream positive
emotion (average)
.61
**
Waking positive emotion
.19
**
.50 Waking negative emotion
Dream negative
emotion (average)
.48
**
Waking negative emotion
.31
**
.43 Waking positive emotion
Note.
P
shows the standardized regression coefficients for prediction from personality characteristics
at step 1. If no personality characteristics are significant predictors at the 1% level the column is blank.
The accompanying R
2
shows the proportion of variance accounted for at step 1.
P&WE
shows the
standardized regression coefficients for personality characteristics and waking emotions at step 2. The
accompanying R
2
shows the proportion of variance accounted for at step 2.
*
p.05.
**
p.01.
182 Gilchrist, Davidson, and Shakespeare-Finch
the global emotion scores for positive and negative emotions were treated in
separate analyses.
Overall, as would be expected from the relative sizes of the correlations
between dream emotions and personality characteristics and dream emotions and
waking emotions, the waking emotions made a substantial additional contribution
to explaining the variation in dream emotions in every case. Personality character-
istics were useful predictors of dream emotions only for the dream emotions of
excitement, apprehension, sadness, and confusion. With the single exception of
love, the strongest predictor of the dream emotion in the final regression equation
was the related waking emotion. For the dream emotion of love, the waking
emotion of joy emerged as the strongest predictor in the final regression equation,
with waking love and sadness also significant predictors.
DISCUSSION
It was predicted that negative personality or attitudinal characteristics, neu-
roticism, and negative affect would be positively correlated with the negative dream
emotions of anger, apprehension or fear, sadness, confusion or shock, and that
positive personality or attitudinal characteristics of optimism, hope, life satisfaction,
positive affect and need for cognition would positively correlate with the positive
dream emotions of joy or happiness, love, contentment, and interest or excitement.
Correlations were adjusted to remove the effects of overall emotional responsive-
ness and response bias. After adjustment, there were small but significant correla-
tions between optimism and dream apprehension (negative); between satisfaction
with life and dream contentment (positive); between satisfaction with life and
dream apprehension and sadness (both negative); and between the “Simple”
subscale of the Need for Cognition Scale and dream excitement (positive). In the
latter case, scoring higher on the “Simple” scale may indicate a preference for
action as opposed to reflection, and this may be associated with more exciting
dreams. All the correlations were small, with none greater than .30. The results,
however, are consistent with those of Blagrove, Farmer, and Williams (2003) who
found correlations between low well-being and prospective unpleasant dream
frequency and of Zadra and Donderi (2000) who found people who experienced
bad dreams scored low on measures of well-being.
It was predicted that there would be positive relationships between waking
emotions and the same or related dream emotions. There were substantial and
significant correlations between all of the corresponding waking and dream emotions
when averaged over three weeks. The effect remained after adjustment for overall
emotional responsiveness or response bias. The findings of strong correlations between
the corresponding waking and dreaming emotions are consistent with the continuity
hypothesis (Hall, 1953, cited in Domhoff, 1996; p. 153), Hartmann’s contention that
emotion in dreams is a representation of emotion in waking life, and the findings of
Shredl (2003), who found that state was a more relevant indicator of negative
dreams that trait. These findings are particularly important as previous research has
not documented both positive and negative waking emotions and dreaming emo-
tions and assessed their relationship.
Dreams, Emotions, Personality, and Well-Being 183
It was expected that data on waking emotions would augment the capacity of
personality characteristics to predict dream emotions. This was found to be the case
for some of the dream emotions (excitement, sadness, apprehension, and confu-
sion). The dream emotion of love was predicted by waking joy, with waking love
and sadness being significant secondary predictors. However, by far the strongest
predictor of dream emotions overall was participant’s experience of the same
waking emotion.
Conclusion
The results indicate that there are associations between some personality and
attitudinal characteristics and the emotions experienced in dreaming. In particular,
satisfaction with life was found to be associated with the dream emotions of
contentment, apprehension, and sadness. It was confirmed that dream emotions are
strongly correlated to waking emotional experiences for both negative and positive
emotions. While personality characteristics alone have limited use as individual
difference variables in predicting the emotions experienced in dreaming, the addi-
tion of waking emotions to personality characteristics increases the predictability of
dream emotions. Bearing in mind that the present results are based on recurrent
levels of emotion averaged over a 3-week period, the most notable finding is that
the strongest predictor of a dream emotion is the parallel waking emotion.
The results of this study are particularly important because the association
between waking and dreaming emotions has not previously been as conclusively
established.
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Dreams, Emotions, Personality, and Well-Being 185
... The handful of studies that do exist have measured HWB, or some of its components, and produced discrepant findings. For example, whereas Gilchrist, Davidson, and Shakespeare-Finch (2007) found a weak negative correlation between life satisfaction and negative dream affect, St-Onge et al. (2005) failed to observe any significant relationships between life satisfaction and (positive or negative) dream affect. Whereas state affect in wakefulness has been found to be positively correlated with respective dream affect (Gilchrist et al., 2007;Schredl & Reinhard, 2009Yu, 2007), trait affect in wakefulness has not been associated with dream affect (Gilchrist et al., 2007). ...
... For example, whereas Gilchrist, Davidson, and Shakespeare-Finch (2007) found a weak negative correlation between life satisfaction and negative dream affect, St-Onge et al. (2005) failed to observe any significant relationships between life satisfaction and (positive or negative) dream affect. Whereas state affect in wakefulness has been found to be positively correlated with respective dream affect (Gilchrist et al., 2007;Schredl & Reinhard, 2009Yu, 2007), trait affect in wakefulness has not been associated with dream affect (Gilchrist et al., 2007). ...
... For example, whereas Gilchrist, Davidson, and Shakespeare-Finch (2007) found a weak negative correlation between life satisfaction and negative dream affect, St-Onge et al. (2005) failed to observe any significant relationships between life satisfaction and (positive or negative) dream affect. Whereas state affect in wakefulness has been found to be positively correlated with respective dream affect (Gilchrist et al., 2007;Schredl & Reinhard, 2009Yu, 2007), trait affect in wakefulness has not been associated with dream affect (Gilchrist et al., 2007). ...
Thesis
Full-text available
We experience affect—emotions and mood—not only when we are awake but also during dreaming. Despite considerable research, existing theories and empirical findings disagree about the frequency, nature, and correlates of dream affect. In this thesis, I discuss the conceptual and methodological issues that underlie these discrepancies. I present five empirical studies, the overall aim of which was to investigate the phenomenology and correlates of dream affect and how results regarding these are influenced by study methodology. Studies I–III focused specifically on methodological issues, by comparing self- and external ratings of dream affect (Studies I–II) or the affective content of home and laboratory dream reports (Study III). Studies IV and V investigated the waking well-being and neural correlates of dream affect, respectively. These studies show that results and conclusions regarding dream affect are very different, even contradictory, depending on whether dream reports have been collected using sleep laboratory awakenings or home dream diaries (Study III) or whether dream affect has been measured using self- or external ratings (Studies I–II). Self- and external ratings of dream affect are also differently correlated with waking well-being (Study IV). Together, these results caution against making broad generalizations about affective dream experiences from findings obtained with one type of methodology only. The studies also demonstrate that dream affect is related to aspects of waking well-being and illbeing(Study IV) and that certain affective states experienced in dreams, specifically anger, rely on similar neural processes as in wakefulness (Study V). These findings suggest that the phenomenology and neural correlates of affective experiences are, at least to some extent, continuous across sleep and wakefulness. Overall, this thesis shows how the conceptual and methodological issues in the study of dream affect may limit the validity, generalizability, and replicability of findings and, consequently, pose challenges to theory building and theory testing. It contributes to dream research by highlighting the need, and suggesting ways, to enhance the conceptual clarity and methodological rigour of research on dream affect. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the thesis, the theoretical discussion and novel empirical findings also have implications for emotion research, sleep research, well-being research, consciousness research, and affective neuroscience.
... Numerous studies assessed associations between dream emotions (mostly their valence) and several aspects of waking emotionality. For instance, trait anxiety [24], stress [25], and general psychological well-being [26,27] have been found to be related to dream emotional valence, with dream emotional valence corresponding to that of wake. Moreover, higher frequency of negative emotions in dreams has been linked to several psychopathological conditions such as depression [28], anxiety [29], post-traumatic stress disorder [30], and insomnia [31]. ...
... Instead, while some studies based on subjective ratings found emotions in the fear domain to be the most frequently experienced in dreams (e.g., [40,41]), others showed that joy and approach-related positive emotions (such as interest) may be prevalent (e.g., [42][43][44]). To our knowledge, only three studies [27,45,46] have investigated both daytime and dream specific emotions. Yu [45] studied a set of fifteen emotions in a wide Chinese sample: positive correlations were observed between intensity of pre-sleep, dream, and post-sleep emotions. ...
... Yu [45] studied a set of fifteen emotions in a wide Chinese sample: positive correlations were observed between intensity of pre-sleep, dream, and post-sleep emotions. Gilchrist et al. [27], using an average measure of intensity and duration of each of eight emotions (four positive and four negative), found positive correlations between corresponding wake and dream emotions. Finally, Sikka et al. [46] found that anger and interest ratings were not correlated across wake and dream; also, while their participants experienced more anger in dreams than in the preceding day, interest ratings did not differ between the dream and the previous evening. ...
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Despite the increasing interest in sleep and dream-related processes of emotion regulation, their reflection into wake and dream emotional experience remains unclear. Here, we aimed to assess dream emotions and their relationships with wake emotions through the modified Differential Emotions Scale (Fredrickson, 2003), which includes a broad array of both positive and negative emotions. The scale has been first validated on 212 healthy Italian participants, in two versions: a WAKE-2wks form, assessing the frequency of 22 emotions over the past 2 weeks, and a WAKE-24hr form, assessing their intensity over the past 24 h. Fifty volunteers from the wider sample completed the WAKE-24hr mDES for several days until a dream was recalled, and dream emotions were self-reported using the same scale. A bifactorial structure was confirmed for both mDES forms, which also showed good validity and reliability. Though Positive and Negative Affect (average intensity of positive and negative items, PA, and NA, respectively) were balanced in dreams, specific negative emotions prevailed; rmANOVA showed a different pattern (prevalence of PA and positive emotions) in wake (both WAKE-2wks and WAKE-24hr), with a decrease of PA and an increase of NA in the dream compared to previous wake. No significant regression model emerged between waking and dream affect, and exploratory analyses revealed a stable proportion of PA and NA (with prevailing PA) over the 3 days preceding the dream. Our findings highlight a discontinuity between wake and dream affect and suggest that positive and negative emotions experienced during wake may undertake distinct sleep-related regulation pathways.
... In fact, emotional tone of the previous day and previous two weeks did not predict that of the dream in either group of participants. This result is consistent with three other studies which found few [79], small [80], or no correlations [81] between corresponding dream and previous daytime emotions. The absence, to date, of data on direct relationships between waking and dream affect does not lend support to our main hypothesis, i.e., the interpretation of our data in the frame of theories on dream-related emotion regulation [1,3,[11][12][13][14]. ...
... The absence, to date, of data on direct relationships between waking and dream affect does not lend support to our main hypothesis, i.e., the interpretation of our data in the frame of theories on dream-related emotion regulation [1,3,[11][12][13][14]. However, clearer associations between waking and dream affect could exist across different time spans and in different directions than those investigated here and in the abovementioned studies [79][80][81]. In fact, as pointed out in the introduction, each dream could process emotions experienced the day before, a few days before (in analogy with literature on the "dream lag" and "dayresidue" effect [44,45]), or during wider daytime spans (e.g., the last few weeks, the general "time period", etc.). ...
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... The most recent memories from the day before (day residues) are typically more represented than other recent memories, as are emotional ones, however remote (6,36,37). According to some studies, positive and negative emotions occurring during a dream are strongly correlated with the emotional experiences of wakefulness (38). Stress can increase the rate of incorporation of waking memories into dreams (39), and it has also been associated with increased DRF (2,40,41) and emotional intensity of dream content (38). ...
... According to some studies, positive and negative emotions occurring during a dream are strongly correlated with the emotional experiences of wakefulness (38). Stress can increase the rate of incorporation of waking memories into dreams (39), and it has also been associated with increased DRF (2,40,41) and emotional intensity of dream content (38). For studies investigating emotional dream content, it may thus be necessary to monitor/collect the emotional daily experiences of the participants during the period of dream collection. ...
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... Perceived stress. Two daily measures of perceived stress were completed prior to bedtime using a 10-point Likert scale ranging from not stressed at all (0) to extremely stressed (9). The first measure required participants to rate the maximum level of stress experienced that day while the second required participants to rate their stress level at the time of questionnaire completion (i.e., prior to bedtime). ...
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... The intensity and pervasiveness of waking emotions are among the most important factors that influence the incorporation of emotions into subsequent dreams. These factors can influence the time course of the incorporation of waking emotions into dreams so that not only can immediate pre-sleep emotions be incorporated into dreams, but also emotions experienced in a longer time interval(Schredl, 2018;Gilchrist et al., 2007;Hartmann, 2011b).Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved. ...
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In the waking state, in the absence of meta-awareness, mind wandering with specific contents can lead to negative mood. Such negative mood can be incorporated into dreaming according to the continuity hypothesis of dreaming. In this paper we argue that in the presence of what we call ‘sustained phenomenal meta-awareness’, negative mood would not follow mind wandering in waking. Sustained phenomenal meta-awareness has a non-sensory, non-affective phenomenal character. It is essentially intransitive, prereflectively self-aware, non-propositional, non-conceptual and devoid of subject-object structure. In other words, this unique kind of meta-awareness is non-representational. Evidence is then provided that such sustained phenomenal meta-awareness can be incorporated into the subsequent dream state as non-dual lucid dreaming in which, again, no negative mood would arise. Based on the latter observation, we have coined the term ‘mindful mind wandering’ and defined it as mind wandering in the presence of sustained phenomenal meta-awareness. We argue that not only does mindful mind wandering not lead to negative mood in waking, but also its incorporation into dreaming, as non-dual lucid dreaming, result in a state that is free of negative affection.
... They were able to experience emotions that were previously unfelt. Dreams and our waking life emotions are highly interrelated (Gilchrist et al., 2007;Nielsen et al., 1991), therefore it is not unusual for a depressed individual to have darker dreams in the beginning of their journey as was the case for participants in this study. Participants explored new emotions and how to integrate them by interacting with conscious characters in their lucid dreams. ...
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... The next feature concerns the intensity of emotions resulting from the appearance of a stimulus. The last feature is related to the content of emotions (Gilchrist et al., 2007;Izard, 2009;Armenta et al., 2017). Advertising, including social one can influence the subconscious of a human to varying degrees evoking various emotional behaviors. ...
... Cheating on a partner and participating in sexual activity outside a relationship could lead to more negative experiences, cognitions and emotions about sex, which are reflected in the content of the dreams (Thompson, 1984). In line with this finding, dreams of persons with high neuroticism scores tend to contain more negative emotions such as sadness and apprehension in dreams (Gilchrist et al., 2007). ...
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... In order to control for potentially confounding variables, five covariates were included: (a) trait thought suppression, which has been found to influence dream rebound (Bryant, Wyzenbeek, & Weinstein, 2011); (b) rumination, as rumination may cause participants to be more prone to think about their forbidden thought before sleep; (c) neuroticism, which has been found to relate dreaming of waking-life emotions (Gilchrist, Davidson, & Shakespeare-Finch, 2007); (d) depression, anxiety and stress, which have been found to relate to the extent to which individuals dream of their waking-life emotions (Malinowski, 2017); and (e) gender, because women tend be more prone to neuroticism (Schmitt, Realo, Voracek, & Martin, 2008) and depression (Piccinelli & Wilkinson, 2000). ...
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The importance of hope has been noted by both physicians and by psychotherapists. The construct, hope, has -both cognitive and affective aspects. This article describes two self-report measures of hope that differentially assess these two aspects. The Expected Balance Scale (EBS), modeled after Bradburn's Affective Balance Scale, measures expected positive feelings and its separate scales measure optimism and pessimism. The Hope index, based on the interactions of wishes and expectations, is a better measure of the cognitive component of hope. Descriptive statistics for the two measures are promising.