I know how you felt last night, or do I? Self- and external ratings of emotions in REM sleep dreams
Pilleriin Sikka a,b,⇑, Katja Valli a,b, Tiina Virta a, Antti Revonsuo a,b
We investigated whether inconsistencies in previous studies regarding emotional experiences in dreams derive from whether dream emotions are self-rated or externally evaluated. Seventeen subjects were monitored with polysomnography in the sleep laboratory and awakened from every rapid eye movement (REM) sleep stage 5 min after the onset of the stage. Upon awakening, participants gave an oral dream report and rated their dream emotions using the modified Differential Emotions Scale, whereas external judges rated the participants’ emotions expressed in the dream reports, using the same scale. The two approaches produced diverging results. Self-ratings, as compared to external ratings, resulted in greater estimates of (a) emotional dreams; (b) positively valenced dreams; (c) positive and negative emotions per dream; and (d) various discrete emotions represented in dreams. The results suggest that this is mostly due to the underrepresentation of positive emotions in dream reports. Possible reasons for this discrepancy are discussed.