Brian Sullivan



Empirical studies largely support the continuity hypothesis of dreaming. At least that is the opinion of researchers Michael Schredl, Arthur Funkhouser, and Nicole Arn reported in The International Journal of Dream Research.

The study, Work-related dreams as related to job and life satisfaction in hairdressers, gave a questionnaire to 87 Swiss, female hairdressers between the ages of 17 to 72 and with 1 to 50 years of hairdressing experience in the Swiss town of Thun.

“The present study investigated the frequency and the emotional tone of dreams of hairdressers” states the report, “A relationship was found between daytime mood (job satisfaction) and dream emotions”.

“Life satisfaction that was low, on the other hand, was related to a heightened frequency of work-related dreams. It would be promising to study persons with different professions (stressful and demanding jobs) in order to study the effect of work-related variables and dreaming.”

“Overall, the findings indicate that there is a relationship between work-related dreams and the waking-life of the participants. The frequency of work-related dreams was in­versely related to life satisfaction and the emotions of work-related dreams are correlated with the job and life satisfac­tion. Thus, the study lends some support to the continuity hypothesis. Topics which might explain the relatively small correlation coefficients will be discussed in the following” according to the research.

“Assuming continuity between waking thoughts and dream­ing, this might reflect that persons who are not satisfied with their life in general spend more time thinking about work, i.e. use their jobs which are associated with high satisfaction as some kind of compensation for discontentment in private life. This finding indicates that problems that are not related to work (family, partnership, friends, health, etc.) might af­fect work-related dreams and, thus, it would be desirable to include such measures into future studies. Schredl, Schäfer, Weber and Heuser (1998), for example, reported that health problems were related to dreams about health issues in pa­tients with insomnia.”

The women worked up to 56 hours a week, exhibited positive job and life satisfaction and a low range of stress levels. They remembered dreams twice a week and at least one work related dream every other month.

However, males were not considered in this survey. Research last year suggests women tend to recall dreams more often than men (Schredl & Reinhard, 2008).

This research reported higher figures than the truck drivers (1.90 per week compared to 0.94 per week stated the report, possibly because of gender difference.

“On the other hand, the percentage of work-related dreams was considerably smaller in the hairdressers compared to the truck drivers who completed a similar questionnaire (3.6% vs. 16.8%).”

Regarding dream emotions, the marginally significant cor­relation coefficients between job satisfaction and emotional tone of the work-related dreams were of smaller magnitude than those obtained in the truck driver study; again likely re­lated to the restricted range of stress levels and job satisfac­tion.

A similar study methodology was applied bt Schredl and Erlacher (2008) with similar results to elicit the percentage of sports dreams and in 2006 Erlacher & Schredl used dream diaries and dream content analytic methods to assess the number of sports dreams.

In 2002 Schredl reported moderate correlations between general emotional tone of the dreams (retrospective rating scale) and the emotional tone of diary dreams recorded over two weeks. In addition, the balanced emotional tone is also in line with the research of positive and negative emotions in diary dreams (Schredl & Doll, 1998). These findings indicate that the methodological issues (using retrospective mea­sures for measuring frequency and emotional tone of work-related dreams) are not likely to have biased the results. Age as a possible confounding variable (large age range of the sample) did not affect the correlation coefficients in a marked way

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