Analysis of a large sample of diary dreams—how typical are these typical dreams?Somnologie 2014 · DOI 10.1007/s11818-013-0653-6
J. Mathes · M. Schredl
Typical dreams are defined as dreams with similar contents reported by a high percentage
of dreamers. Up to now, the frequencies of typical dream themes have been studied with questionnaires, indicating that the rank order of 55 typical dream themes is quite stable over different sample populations. The study presented here is the first to look at the frequencies of typical dream themes in a large sample of diary dreams reported by 425 students (321 women, 64 men; mean age 23 years). Overall, almost all typical dream themes were found in the diary dreams, even though some themes occurred very rarely. The rank correlation between diary data and questionnaire data is relatively high, but for some typical dream themes like “Trying again and again to do something” and “Falling” the ranks differed considerably. Future research should adopt various ways of identifying typical dream themes (e.g. qualitative analysis of large dream samples, themes dreamers themselves identify as typical) and develop a more precise definition for each theme. This would be the prerequisite for empirical studies investigating the question why these dream themes are typical, i.e. how these dreams are related to the waking-life experiences of the dreamer.