February 20, 2009

Most think their dreams have significance

Psychologists may find dreams meaningful because most of their clients do, U.S. researchers concluded.

After analyzing research on six studies involving more than 1,100 subjects on the meaning of dreams, the researchers suggest the majority of people believe dreams have significance.

Psychologists' interpretations of the meaning of dreams vary widely, lead author Carey Morewedge of the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh said in a statement. But our research shows that people believe their dreams provide meaningful insight into themselves and their world.

The study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, found agreement among various populations including U.S., Indian, and South Korean university students, as well as a U.S. nationally representative sample, that dreams reveal hidden truths.

One study involved 182 Boston commuters. They were asked what would cause them to cancel flying -- the national threat level raised to orange, a conscious thought about the plane crashing, news of a real plane crash, or dreaming about a plane crash. The study found the dream and the real crash produced similar levels of anxiety likely to affect travel plans.

Most people understand that dreams are unlikely to predict the future but that doesn't prevent them from finding meaning in their dreams, whether their contents are mundane or bizarre, Morewedge said.